By Md. Abdullah-Al-Mamun Patwary
In commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), Oct 13, World Vision Bangladesh has widely-observed this day with a fresh call for encouraging female participation and creating adequate awareness and preparedness to reduce risk in disaster amid a changing climate. The theme for IDDR for 2012 in Bangladesh “Let’s build a disaster resilient country: Take girls and women as supporting forces” draws attention to the fact that women and girls are powerful agents of change.
More than 50 ADPs with participation of community people, especially girls and women, CBOs, government officials, and other agencies celebrated the day at community levels, living in both urban and rural areas. Through a set of events and activities, including a colourful rally, art and essay writing competition for children on DRR, debate, simulation on earthquake at schools, discussion sessions, cultural shows and commemorative posters, people were able to hear the key messages.
Pointing out the main objective of observation of the IDDR, different speakers opined that we should invest our effort to sensitise, empower women and young people that could contribute much reducing risk to disasters. Partakers also put special emphasis on encouraging and enhancing participations of the womenfolk and girls in DRR programmes for effectively minimising disaster risks.
Bangladesh Government in collaboration with different actors including World Vision set the mark the national event on IDDR ceremony with much fanfare in the capital. The day’s programme began through bringing out a rally. Appreciating the role of women in disaster management activities, at the inauguration ceremony the Honorable Prime Minister Shikh Hasina said the women with their poor knowledge and capacity are playing tremendous role in this area.
Woman and girls are the pillars of resilience. They are the first to prepare their families for disaster and the first to put communities back together in the aftermath. To be strong, a community cannot overlook half of its population: gender inequality puts everyone in danger when natural hazards strike. Underling the need for women participation, one of the participants of the rally, Salam Khatun (35), president of Dristy cooperative committee, Mymensingh district, said “From the beginning of human being, without women nothing is possible. We are usually the first to respond to disaster – rescuing relatives, and helping care for the injured. We can play in making our community better prepared for disasters.”
Bangladesh stands fifth in a list of most natural disaster prone countries in the world, according to the World Risk Report 2012. Nature’s behaviour has been irregular and erratic. Adverse impact already been started. With this scenario, evidence shows that women living in poverty and exclusion are disproportionately affected by disasters – they are hardest hit and take longest to recover. But given the opportunity, women and girls can make significant contributions to disaster reduction efforts. Strengthening the gender balance in a community means strengthening resilience.
IDDR 2012 is a powerful marker for women across Bangladesh, consolidating the work they have done together. The day was an occasion to pay tribute to millions of girls and women around the country who are on the frontline making their communities and societies resilient to the impacts of disasters and the effects of climate change.