NEW YORK (April 10, 2015)- The Women’s Major Group had a strong showing with representatives from across the globe who made impacts and inroads at the WCDRR in Sendai, from 13-18 March 2015.
Activities included ongoing advocacy with Member States, official statements (watch Hiroko Hara of Japan Women’s Network for DRR), daily messages, speaking roles in dialogues (watch Adivasu Levu of FemLINKPACIFIC at Women’s Leadership Dialogue) and at the Ignite Stage, side events, press conferences (watch WEDO’s Eleanor Blomstrom), informational booths and more. While the WMG itself took form in early 2014, a majority of the members of the WMG are experts, advocates and practitioners who have worked with Disaster Risk Reduction for years and even decades, ensuring women’s rights and gender equality are part of DRR planning, research and actions.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Declaration were agreed on March 18, 2015, after a marathon of over 30 hours of negotiations beginning 17 March at 10am, all of which followed a late night on the 16th. Most of the final discussion took place in small informal informals behind closed doors. Meanwhile, the majority of delegations and all the observers waited in the plenary room. One delegation tried to brighten the mood and inspire progress by handing out roses throughout the room, but as time dragged on the beautiful roses started to resemble the delegates – wilted and bedraggled.
The agreement, which takes the place of the Hyogo Framework for Action, has a timeline of fifteen years. Text on women, women’s rights and gender equality remained fairly weak up through the final document (compilation of women/gender text is available here): women’s leadership is included as are gender sensitive policies and a reference to sexual and reproductive health care services. However, women are often included together with girls and marginalized groups, furthering the ‘victim’ paradigm; the term ‘gender equality’ does not appear in the text, nor is there a reference to women’s human rights; the WMG advocated for stronger language around gender-responsive policies, and the gender-sensitive policies are only referenced in relation to the Major Groups, which shifts the burden to civil society and especially to women. The private sector was included in all sections of the text but there was no correlating text for private sector accountability or regulation. The long deliberations by Member States on the stickiest issues, such as means of implementation, especially technology transfer and whether it should include ‘mutually agreed terms’ as advocated by the US, especially; CBDR and climate change; conflict; and financing, overshadowed the critical need for comprehensive DRR that changes systems and sets in place preparation and prevention to build resilience. All of this was happening alongside a furious category 5 storm in Vanuatu.
Women taking action
As the WMG stated in the final civil society press conference, women have not been and will not be idle. Organizations are already leading on capacity building projects around gender and DRR, reconstruction projects, and more. We will use the text to the fullest possible, and go farther wherever possible. We will also follow through on DRR in all the 2015 agreements to come this year.
WMG @ WCDRR Message of the Day:
- March 14, Day1: #WMG #WCDRR message day1: #women‘s leadership empowers #community #resilience @HuairouConnect @gdn_online
- March 15, Day2: Collect & use #gender #disaggregated data for #DRR #accountability. No target met until met for all! #WCDRR
- March 16, Day3: Accelerate #GenderEquality efforts at #WCDRR. #Accountability for #Women #HumanRights in #DRR implementation @UNISDR
- March 17, Day4: In my experience women are best at #SocialEntrepreneurship to support #community #DRR Dr. Ibu Karavawati, #Indonesia
- March 18, Day5: #Women‘s lives and community survival in the balance. #WCDRR delegates, time to come to agreement. #whoselivesmatter
Participation by WMG members in numerous events:
- WMG Official Statement, Represented by Hiroko Hara, 4th Plenary Meeting of the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (Text as delivered & long version); Sendai, Japan, 15 March 2015 — Video: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/conferencessummits/3rd-un-world-conference-on-disaster-risk-reduction-14-18-march-2015-sendai-japan/official-statements/watch/representative-from-women-major-groups/4112498813001
- Closing Press Conference by Civil Society, WMG represented by Eleanor Blomstrom, 18 March 2015 — http://m.webtv.un.org/meetings-events/conferencessummits/3rd-un-world-conference-on-disaster-risk-reduction-14-18-march-2015-sendai-japan/watch/closing-press-conference-from-the-major-group-at-the-third-world-conference-on-disaster-risk-reduction-sendai-japan-2015/4119538039001
- The High Level Dialogue, Mobilizing Women’s Leadership on Disaster Risk Reduction, http://www.wcdrr.org/conference/events/854, featured panelists Adivasu Levu of FEMLINKPacific, and included an intervention from the floor by Eleanor Blomstrom of WEDO, Saturday, 14 March, 15:00 – 18:00.
- Beyond inclusion: Empowering women as leaders in disaster risk reduction, Organizer(s): ActionAid Bangladesh, Sunday 15 March, 09:00 – 12:00
- Global Risk Trends, Multi-Stakeholder Segment, Working session – Emerging Risks, with Priyanthi Fernando, Executive Director, Center for Poverty Analysis, Sri Lanka, http://www.wcdrr.org/conference/events/866 Sunday 15 March 12:00 – 13:30
- Women in risk reduction and resilience building, Multi-Stakeholder Segment, Other session – IGNITE Stage, Organizer(s): Duryog Nivaran, Sunday 15 March 17:45 – 18:00
- Scaling up grassroots women innovations for resilience, Public Forum, Side Events, Organizer(s): Huairou Commission, Monday 16 March 09:00 – 12:00
- Governing Disaster Risk: Overcoming Challenges, Intergovernmental Segment, Ministerial Round Table, http://www.wcdrr.org/conference/events/848 featured Ms. Priyanthi Fernando of Duryog Nivaran, Monday 16 March, 10:00 – 13:00
- Success stories of grassroots women, Multi-Stakeholder Segment, Other session – IGNITE Stage, http://www.wcdrr.org/conference/events/1162 Organizer(s): Huairou Commission, Katia Araujo, Monday 16 March 17:15 – 17:30
- iPrepare: Building awareness of disaster preparedness in communities, Multi-Stakeholder Segment, Other session – IGNITE Stage, http://www.wcdrr.org/conference/events/1154 Organizer(s): Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Mahbuba Nasreen, Monday 16 March 15:30 – 15:45
- Women as a Force for Change-Gender and DRR, Organizer(s): Japan Women’s Network for Disaster Risk Reduction, Public Interest Incorporated Foundation, Japan Association for Women’s Education, Wednesday 18 March, 13:15 – 15:45.
- Public Forum, Exhibition Booths, Organizer(s): Gender and Disaster Network (GDN), Doing Gender and Disaster! There is widespread acceptance that gender must be included in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) but how do you do it? The booth will offer examples of practical measures and visitors will be asked to contribute ideas and examples from their national, local and organizational contexts.
- Public Forum, Poster Sessions, Organizer(s): Gender and Disaster Network (GDN)