Disasters cannot be predicted completely, but better panning and readiness can surely reduce its impacts. And if women are included in the complete process, right at the beginning itself, from participatory discussion, decision making to training, not only will they become less vulnerable, but also strengthen the resilience of the land and her people.

An in depth assessment of gender integration in Phase I of the project,“Towards Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation: Understanding Flood risk and Resilience in eastern India”, undertaken by Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) in collaboration with Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET), USA (ISET)and the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), was carried out.

The next step forward was to formulate additional strategies required in Phase II to ensure that the project becomes more gender inclusive. Discussions were held with women and men from the community and government officials at district, state and national levels, as also the staff of GEAG, ISET and NIDM. Both villages and urban habitats were covered to understand sex/gender related vulnerabilities a little better.

The underlying idea was to understand the crucial factors that would encourage the mainstreaming of gender issues in disaster management policies.The seven measures that we believe are needed to strengthen integration of gender concerns are:

Assess gender vulnerability
Greater focus must be on poorer economic groups, differently abled, transgender, single women, elderly women, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, anaemic women etc. Participatory tools must be used for facilitating discussions and a tool kit evolved to assess gendered vulnerabilities, adaptation and resilience. Atleast three habitations (village/urban habitat) should be selected per district/state for this assessment.

Improve capacity building
Build a core team to steer gender mainstreaming, preferably with atleast one staff member a woman. Hold workshops and aim for 33% women delegates as women. Organise a three monthly meeting on gender during inter-departmental meetings to build further capacity, or devote half an hour in each quarterly meeting to address gender concerns in DRR/CCA (Disaster Risk Redution and Climate Change Adaptation) integrated DDM (Department of Disaster Management).

Beyond district level
Carry out Training of Trainers (ToT) for senior officials that focus on perspective building and gender mainstreaming. Prepare case studies in English and the local language for better dissemination. Pilot two modules on gender, DRR/CCA in DM (Disaster Management) and institutionalise the same within NIDM/SDMAs (National Institute of Disaster Management/ State Disaster Managment Authority). Training methods to include document analysis, case studies, role plays, videos or participatory methods.

Make guidelines gender sensitive
Engender guidelines pertaining to DM/DRR along with other relevant stakeholders and share comments to the government on the national level ones. Ensure that the District Collector’s Handbook developed to provide practical tips and guidelines to the administrative heads of districts too is gender oriented.

Work on the UP Action Plans on CCA and Floods
Integrate gender concerns in DRR, disaster management and post disaster adaptation and recovery. Reach out to the possibility to influence the National Plan of Action on Climate Change and National Disaster Management Policy, 2009 from a gender lens.

Baselines and monitoring system
Create gendered baselines in 3 villages per district in accordance with VDMPs (Village Disaster Management Plans). Indicators may be evolved in a participatory manner, covering inputs, process, outputs and outcomes.

Create gendered knowledge products
Encourage knowledge products to view gender concerns. Create specific products that focus on gendered vulnerabilities in the context of climate change and disasters, and integrate of gender concerns within DDMPs. These should be also be translated into local languages.

So, inspite of gender integration not being an agenda in Phase I, progress was made in this direction. Similarly, the government has also incorporated, to varying degrees, gender issues in guidelines, plans and policies. The time is now, to incorporate lessons from the Phase I experience and move towards a strategy that gives women a better chance to rebuild her life and future, for a more resilient tomorrow.

This is the third and final blog based on the research project “Towards Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation: Understanding Flood risk and Resilience in eastern India”, undertaken by Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) in collaboration with Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET), USA and the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM).

Blog 1: Her story: 7 reasons why women face greater risk during disasters

Blog 2: Her story: Looking at a project through a gender lens

 

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