By Brigitte Leoni
Bangkok - The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, today honored the Prime Minister of Thailand, H.E. Yingluck Shinawatra, as a leading woman figure in disaster management.
The Prime Minister of Thailand accepted the commemorative plaque during a courtesy call with Ms. Wahlström who heads UNISDR, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, at Government house following a special ceremony held at Thammasat University in Bangkok to mark the International Day for Disaster Reduction and the ASEAN day for Disaster Management.
"Last year, the Prime Minister of Thailand became a very visible figure for women around the world when she took on the responsibility for managing the response to the worst flooding Thailand has ever experienced just a few short weeks after taking office. She rose to the challenge with dignity and courage," said Ms. Wahlström.
"Since then she has set up a new Women's Fund to promote gender equality in Thailand and to empower women in many areas of life. She is a committed advocate for gender equality and she is willing to engage more women and girls in disaster risk reduction in ASEAN countries and throughout Asia. We are very grateful for her support especially on this special day, the International Day for Disaster Reduction, when we celebrate the role of women and girls in building resilience to disasters."
The theme of this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction is "Women and Girls: The [in]Visible Force of Resilience" and the focus is on recognizing the role of women in disaster management and encouraging their greater involvement.
"This week-long commemoration of the ASEAN Day for Disaster Management sends a powerful message and clarion call to raise people's consciousness on the significance of women's roles in disaster risk reduction as well as the importance of inclusivity, cooperation, collaboration and convergence in order to achieve the goals of disaster risk reduction in Southeast Asia" said M. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General.
The event in Bangkok was co-organized by ASEAN, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) in Thailand, the AADMER Partnership Group (APG), the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the UN Thematic Working Group on Gender co-chaired by UN ESCAP and UN Women, GIZ, the Huairou Commission, and several other civil society organizations. Experts on gender issues were also invited to attend two panel discussions on how to improve gender equality and encourage more women participation in disaster risk reduction.
Girls from India, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh were presented with their prizes in the SAARC Essay competition sponsored by the Siam Commercial Bank, the Islamic Bank of Thailand and Banchak Petroleum. Myanmar Airlines and Sri Lanka Airlines also provided air tickets to the winners.