Recognizing that gender mainstreaming is important in disaster management, the AHA Centre has partnered in the past years with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, or UN Women. A global champion for gender equality, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on women’s and girl’s rights worldwide. Alongside other United Nations partners, UN Women’s collaborations with the AHA Centre fall under the ASEAN-UN Joint Strategic Plan of Action on Disaster Management (JSPADM).
With the adoption of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response Work Programme 2021-2025, ASEAN has taken gender and social inclusion as a guiding principle for the implementation of all its disaster management work. Through an ECHO-funded programme called “Strengthening Gender-Responsive Disaster Management in ASEAN,” UN Women works in close collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and the Technical Working Group on Protection, Gender, and Inclusion, of which the AHA Centre is a key member, to support operationalization of this guiding principle.
The AHA Centre and UN Women have partnered to provide disaster management actors in the region with capacity strengthening on gender and social inclusion, Alongside sister agencies UNFPA and UNICEF, UN Women has delivered courses to officials from ASEAN national disaster management organizations on rapid assessments for women and children. UN Women and UNFPA also contribute to AHA Centre initiatives such as the Humanitarian Emergency Logistics Innovation Expo (HELiX) through organizing dialogues on accountability in humanitarian logistics, and providing key “musts” for hackathon participants to consider in their solutions to not widen the gender digital gap.
Building on ASEAN momentum in strengthening risk governance to become more responsive to the needs of women, girls, and marginalized groups, UN Women emphasizes the critical importance of also recognizing their roles as leaders and agents of change in disaster management. The launch of the ASEAN Regional Framework on Protection, Gender, and Inclusion in Disaster Management 2021-2025 in October 2021 marked a key step forward in this. The AHA Centre continues to have a key role to play in operationalizing target actions including for the leadership of those most impacted by disasters. For example, the ASEAN Disaster Resilience Outlook notes that women only form 25% of regional Emergency Response and Assessment Team trainers and members, even though women make up 50.1% of the ASEAN population – partnerships with organizations like UN Women can support in creating enabling environments for increasing not only the number of women on teams, but also their influence and voice.
With strong policies and strengthened capacities and understanding on gender, the next step is to implement the frameworks into concrete actions. Substantive progress has already been made to better understand the impacts of disasters on those most vulnerable. Moving forward, supporting and resourcing women’s organizations and gender machineries in the ASEAN region which have contributed to the gender-responsive disaster risk reduction is key.
As the AHA Centre enters its second decade of operations, it will continue to draw upon and exchange experiences with UN Women on gender-responsive disaster management and response, contributing to a more equal, resilient region for all.