Women’s Major Group Activities at the 1st PrepCom for the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
July 14-15, 2014
Geneva, Switzerland

The Women’s Major Group (WMG) engaged actively with the PrepCom1 from the preparatory phase through the conference itself. Activities of the WMG included sending introductory email messages on the 3rd World Conference process and how to engage with the WMG; drafting, incorporating input and delivering oral and written WMG statements at multiple opportunities during the conference; meeting with Member States and Bureau members; meeting with other Major Groups and stakeholders; liaising with the conference Secretariat; among others.

This report summarizes the preparation, engagement and next steps for the Women’s Major Group.

Preparation for the 1st PrepCom
Leading up to PrepCom1, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization took on the role of Organizing Partner of the Women’s Major Group (WMG). WEDO sent WMG PrepCom1 Email Updates to reach out to diverse networks of women and women’s organizations working in the field of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and related work. The first message was a general information and invitation letter and the second message provided further detail on the PrepCom1 logistics and how to engage in the drafting/delivery of the WMG statement in plenary, as well as the other entry points for MG participation.

WMG at the PrepCom
PrepCom1 was a 2-day meeting that offered three primary opportunities to input ideas, questions and recommendations, which included a plenary session that lasted throughout the 2 days, three Chair’s Dialogues with Major Groups and three Technical Workshops. The WMG also hosted its own internal meetings and met with Member States and other stakeholders.

Official meetings of the PrepCom
In the two days of plenary that offered an opportunity to hear views from States and observers (IGOs, UN and major groups) on considerations on the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, Member States delivered statements on their national perspectives (regarding progress in the HFA and suggestions for HFA2). The WMG tracked the statements to understand how MS were discussing the aspect of gender equality and women’s rights overall and noted that among the countries and entities making statements were Finland, Japan, Panama, Benin, West African States, USA, Nigeria, New Zealand, DRC, Norway, Samoa, Canada, Cook Islands, UK, Burundi, Women’s Major Group, Science and Technology Major Group, WHO, UNICEF, SADIMA.

Member States highlighted issues such as women’s leadership and participation, women’s contribution to reconstruction and the process overall, women as agents of change, women as vulnerable group, data collection related to gender/sex, women’s inclusion in relation to human rights, addressing gender issues and being gender-sensitive broadly.

Ms. Akiko Domoto of the Japanese Women’s Network for Disaster Risk Reduction delivered an intervention (written, delivered) on behalf of the Women’s Major Group on Tuesday, July 15, making 5 clear points about HFA2:
1. It is essential that women are involved as leaders in decision-making, budgeting, and planning processes about disaster risk reduction at all levels;
2. The Framework must link to the larger Sustainable Development agenda and aim to transform structure, institutions and societies;
3. Strategies and actions for DRR must recognize the resilience and strength of women and girls, and support them as key actors in all phases of disaster risk reduction to ensure that their skills, knowledge, and capacities contribute to DRR, including through integration of women’s organizations and associations into the formal risk management structure;
4. Targets and indicators for monitoring and accountability must address socioeconomic and diverse dimensions of risk – with national governments collecting and reporting on sex-, gender- and age-disaggregated data throughout the disaster risk cycle; and
5. The review process for implementation of the post-2015 HFA2 must be undertaken with concerted effort by all stakeholders, including women, youth, indigenous peoples, and marginalized communities’ effective participation in all aspects.

Links to videos and files of all statements delivered in plenary are available here.

The three Chair’s Dialogues were the most open opportunity to engage and exchange views with the chairs and other Major Groups on the substance. Each dialogue was based around guiding questions related to the theme under discussion, where participants were to: (Dialogue 1) share progress, good practices, innovations and lessons learned in implementing HFA; (Dialogue 2) reflect on the proposed elements for consideration in the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction; and (Dialogue 3) identify commitments for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. The WMG participated and presented a statement in both Dialogue 1 (Eleanor Blomstrom) and in Dialogue 2 (Cheryl Anderson). Huairou Commission and Groots International also consistently delivered statements recognizing the role of women and local communities. The WMG recommendations for HFA2 included collection, use and analysis of gender-disaggregated data to inform planning; recognizing that discrimination is structural and impacts on women’s “vulnerability”; importance of inclusive participation to address intersecting inequalities; facilitating women’s leadership; incorporating human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and social issues in the targets; and ensure coherence with climate change and post-2015. Additional member states identified gender issues in the dialogues.

In parallel to the plenary, three technical workshops were held to build further understanding on key issues, and Major Groups were invited to participate actively with Member States, UN agencies and IGOs. The workshops focused on (1) Indicators, monitoring and review process for the post-2015 framework; (2) Investing in disaster risk reduction; and (3) Mutual reinforcement of disaster risk reduction, sustainable development agenda and goals, and climate change agreements. A representative of the WMG attended each workshop but was able to speak only at the 1st workshop to give a brief intervention, which included the importance of gender and diversity data and analysis to understand disaster risk reduction and resilience; and use of the data to identify who is at risk how they are at risk and the underlying causes of risk.

WMG team at internal and external meetings
The WMG met both formally and informally throughout the PrepCom. WEDO facilitated a strategy and information meeting for the WMG during the morning of Day 1 in order to ensure a shared spirit for WMG involvement in the PrepCom; discuss the entry points for involvements, interventions and provide networking and shared learning opportunity. The WMG at PrepCom1 was relatively small but included people supporting virtually. Attendees included civil society (Akiko Domoto, Japanese Women’s Network for Disaster Risk Reduction; Grace Mbugua, Women’s Empowerment Link, Nigeria; Leah Kimber, University of Geneva; Cheryl Anderson, University Hawaii; Regina Pritchett, Huairou Commission; Maite Otero, Groots International; Eleanor Blomstrom, Women’s Environment and Development Organization; and Sabine Kinzer, Soroptomist International), who collaborated with UN Women as well as the gender focal points of UNISDR. The group shared interest in ensuring a new HFA responsive to the differentiated needs of women as well as recognizing leadership and ensuring precipitation and collaborated throughout the PrepCom. On Day 2, the WMG had a smaller meeting among a few of the CS participants to review progress and strategize for the day ahead.

Even with a small group, the WMG met with various Member States to share recommendations and provide technical support, as well as build relationships and ensure continued input from the WMG during the informal phase of consultations before PrepCom2. It will be crucial to take advantage of the time available in preparation toward PrepCom2 to widen and diversity the active WMG membership, so that the WMG will be larger and even more effective in its advocacy and technical support to Member States as the process moves toward the World Conference in March 2015.

Finally, the WMG also attended meetings for coordination and sharing information among the Major Groups – outside of organization by the Secretariat – which was spearheaded by the NGO Major Group (the largest MG in attendance). At the end of Day 2, NGO, WMG, Children and Youth and Indigenous Peoples MG met together to review the PrepCom and discus strategic next steps and cooperation in the process. It is expected this coordination and communication will continue.

Outcomes of PrepCom1
Two reports resulted from the first PrepCom. The first is the draft report capturing the major decisions of the meeting and adopted on site before closing on the 15th. The second is a pre-zero draft by the co-Chairs’ report capturing the substance, released on August 8. The pre-zero draft includes references to gender and women in the Guiding Principles (C), the Priorities for Action (D) in National and Local Context (I) and Role of Stakeholders (II).

Next Steps in the Process and for the WMG
Process Next steps
The pre-zero draft will (according to the letter from the co-chairs) “serve as the basis for the open-ended informal consultative meetings to be carried out by the co-Chairs of the Preparatory Committee in September and October 2014, also as mandated by the Preparatory Committee’s first session.”

Based on the informal consultative meetings (see schedule) in September and October 2014, the Co-Chairs will prepare a zero draft by mid-October for consideration by the Preparatory Committee at its second session (PrepCom2), scheduled for 17 to 18 November 2014 in Geneva.

WMG Next steps
While some of the inputs of the WMG were reflected in the pre-zero draft, further analysis is needed to identify how well the inputs captured throughout the draft and to assess gaps and opportunities to inform advocacy and technical guidance going forward. An initial compilation of women and gender references is available. The letter also highlights that “… the future framework is a chance to place due emphasis on stakeholders and their role in advancing the priorities for action, which many said were not fully expressed in the Hyogo Framework.”

The WMG needs to grow! Please express your interest in active engagement to wmg3drr(at)wedo.org, and you will be added to a specific listserv for the WMG for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and the preparatory process. General updates will be posted to other listservs as before (GDN, WMG for SD, etc).

The WMG may hold a conference call in late August or early September to provide a short recap of PrepCom1, introduce the participants, discuss the pre-zero draft and discuss a strategy to provide inputs including via the informal consultations, as well as other pertinent business.

Informal Consultations Schedule (all are in Geneva)
Tuesday, 9 September, 09:30-13:00, PN Room XVI
• Structure and general views
• Section A : Preamble
• Section B : Purpose, Scope, Outcome and Goals
• Section C : Guiding principles
Thursday, 18 September, 09:30-13:00, PN Room XIX
• Section D : Priorities for action
Thursday, 2 October, 09.30-13:00, PN Room TBC
• Section D : Priorities for action (cont.)
Thursday, 9 October, 09:30-13:00, PN Room TBC
• Section D : Priorities for action (cont.)
• Section E: International partnership in the implementation and follow-up process
• Section F: Transition phase
• Other issues

The WMG should consider that informal consultative meetings between PrepCom1 and PreCom2 pose challenges for both Member States and Civil Society. It can be challenging in terms of human and financial resources to bring experts to the UN in Geneva for short meetings every week over the course of two months, and the on-site/mission staff may not have the expertise that is most needed in the ongoing discussions. If you can be there, please share that!

Civil Society also lacks requisite human and financial capacity to fully engage (as outlined in GA Resolution 68/211). Furthermore, the modalities of engagement for Major Groups during the important informal meetings to discuss and improve upon the pre-zero draft are not clearly spelled out. Several Major Groups are discussing a joint letter to the WCDRR Bureau outlining recommended (minimum) modalities for participation. This is crucial because the “incorporation of the views and perspectives of a diverse range of state and other stakeholders within the formulation of the post-2015 framework will support the development of a successor framework that fully reflects the realities, needs and priorities of all members of society, particularly those who are disproportionately affected by the impact of disasters.” As in the Rio+20 and OWG processes, participation and access should include, inter alia, access to formal and informal meetings and committees; ability to intervene and provide recommendations in other forms; timely access to information such as pre-drafts, official documents and negotiated texts; and regular meetings with the Bureau and co-chairs.

Annex 1: Key background documents
Key documents for consideration during PrepCom1 are available on the PrepCom1 Website and include the agenda, programme of work, information note, as well as Compilation report on consultations on the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (A/CONF.224/PC(I)/5); Suggested elements for a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (A/CONF.224/PC(I)/6); the Outcomes of six Regional Platforms and meetings on disaster risk reduction (A/CONF.224/PC(I)/7, A/CONF.224/PC(I)/8, A/CONF.224/PC(I)/9, A/CONF.224/PC(I)/10, A/CONF.224/PC(I)/11 and A/CONF.224/PC(I)/12); and Guiding questions by the Secretariat for consideration by the Preparatory Committee (Member States, Major Groups, etc). Relevant documents related to the WMG and gender and disaster risk reduction, in the context of the WCDRR can be found on the PrepCom1 site, on PreventionWeb and on the Gender and Disaster Network.

Annex 2: Participation by Major Groups for the WCDRR 2015 Process
The conference and process officially recognize the important role of stakeholders and Major Groupa, and it is important to maintain an active presence to support a successful and ambitious outcome for the HFA2. General Assembly resolution 68/211 recognized the “importance of the contributions and participation of all relevant stakeholders at the Third World Conference and its preparatory process, including major groups, parliaments, civil society, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, non-governmental organizations, national platforms for disaster risk reduction, focal points for the Hyogo Framework for Action, local government representatives, scientific institutions and the private sector, as well as organizations of the United Nations system and intergovernmental organizations.” It also “stressed the importance of mainstreaming gender and disability perspectives in disaster risk management to strengthen the resilience of communities and reduce social vulnerabilities to disasters, and recognized the need for the inclusive participation and contribution of women, as well as vulnerable people within groups such as children, older persons and persons with disabilities, to the Third World Conference and its preparatory process.”

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