Geneva, Switzerland (18 September, 2014)–The DRR Women’s Major Group (WMG) is in the midst of informal consultations regarding the “Pre-Zero Draft” for the outcome document to the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction – providing priorities and recommendations. The outcome is being called the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, or simply “HFA2” (following from the first Hyogo Framework for Action of 2000). You can access all WMG statements here.

The 1st HFA called for gender mainstreaming, yet only included 3 references to gender; and numerous consultations have revealed a serious lack of implementation of the gender equality mandates. With the 3rd World Conference just around the corner in March of 2015, the HFA2 is an enormous opportunity to learn from the past and excel in the years ahead. Major Groups and Member States alike must work hard to integrate gender equality and women’s rights in meaningful and applicable ways. On top of that, the HFA2 needs to both support and strengthen the actions coming out of other global processes with major outcomes in 2015 – namely the Post-2015 sustainable development agenda in September and the UNFCCC climate agreement in December.

At the 1st informal in Geneva on September 9, the WMG laid out 7 priority areas for the HFA2 (read the full intervention presented by Lily Hutjes-Boelaars of the Huariou Commission):

1. Comprehensive goals & targets: Targets must provide sufficient depth to reflect all 3 dimensions of sustainable development and to facilitate actions that are effective and inclusive–promoting the rights of all persons in meeting the goals of HFA2.

2. Gender equality & women’s rights as a priority: Women must be positioned as more than a human and economic resource for DRR but as active stakeholders and decision makers, with rights and knowledge. Explicitly mention gender differentiation and women as a specific group in all appropriate instances, e.g. within a human rights context addressing gender differences in access to and control over resources to ensure resilience. Only priorities that are explicitly named will get implemented and counted.

3. An inclusive & diverse approach to stakeholder groups is important, but power imbalances among stakeholder groups must be acknowledged and addressed and distinctions must be made between rights holders and duty bearers (e.g. transnational corporations). Developing platforms where women, girls and young people’s experiences and recommendations – and the situated knowledge of indigenous peoples – are respected and acted upon are key to redress the power gap.

4. Human rights: A clearer rights based approach would help to ensure rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders are better articulated. Currently only one reference appears (in the Guiding Principles).

5. Inclusive language is spotty and should be improved by using the word “ALL” throughout (e.g. strengthen economic and social resilience of ALL countries and ALL people).

6. Differences between people, especially in terms of differential risk, exposure and vulnerability must be recognized in the document to insure a rights-based approach and inclusive actions that deliver for a larger group of people.

7. Environmental Resilience: The three strands of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – need rebalancing so that commitments to investing in strengthening environmental resilience are made and realized.

At the first preparatory conference (PrepCom1) in July, the WMG provided inputs to the co-chairs, the technical workshops and the plenary, and also met with delegates and UN agencies to advocate for positions and advise on how to bring in gender issues and human rights to strengthen the HFA2.

Since the PrepCom1, the co-chairs have begun hosting informal consultations with Major Groups and with Member States separately. The second one was today (read the interventionpresented by Leah Kimber of the University of Geneva). The first and only joint consultation (added following urging from Major Groups that we have access to the MS consultations) takes place Friday, September 19th in Geneva. Women’s organizations are taking a strong stand to ensure that women’s rights, gender equality, environmental resilience and differentiation between NGOs and private corporations among ‘stakeholders’ are highlighted in the entire document and fully reflected in the targets.

The new framework must ensure that gender equality is more than a phrase in the document and that Member States take concrete steps to integrate women’s human rights and gender equality. We will continue with analysis, concrete suggestions and recommendations so that the co-chairs produce a Zero Draft in late October that better recognizes the importance of a people-centered, rights-based, locally-informed, gender-responsive framework and the practical steps to implement it!

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