Press Release
October 15, 2012

Legarda: Empower Women, Build Disaster-Resilient Communities

Senator Loren Legarda urged government to ensure that women and girls are provided avenues to participate in order to build disaster-resilient communities.

"Women and girls account for 52% of the world's population. Over 100 million of which are affected by disasters annually," Legarda noted.

"As they bear the impact of disasters, it is important that we pay attention to their experience and knowledge," she added.

Legarda, the United Nations Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, also said that even disaster rescue efforts discriminate against women.

"In the 2006 tsunami that killed scores in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, male survivors outnumbered its female counterparts in a 3 to 1 and 4 to 1 ratio," she noted.

Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Climate Change, also said that in times of disaster and economic stress, women are the primary caregivers, bearing the burden of caring for the sick and carrying out much of the household workload after a disaster. Women have distinct nutritional needs that make coping with disasters tougher and harsher.

"Despite these, women have been silently and effectively at the frontline of disaster prevention and climate change adaptation efforts," Legarda said.

"In the Municipality of San Francisco in Camotes Island, Cebu, which is one of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction's 29 model communities worldwide that are exemplars in disaster risk reduction and management, 90% of officers in charge of environmental protection and disaster prevention programs in each and every purok are women, since most of the male residents are focused on making a living for their families. The Purok System focuses on mobilizing local resources in creating local and practical solutions based on the vulnerability and unique needs of every community. The program includes the "no trash segregation - no collection" policy," she added.

"Let us recognize and empower women, who are agents of solutions, indispensable holders of valuable knowledge and skills, and able leaders from the grassroots level to the global stage," Legarda concluded.

The world celebrated the International Day for Disaster Reduction in October 13, with the theme "Women and Girls: the [in]Visible Force of Resilience.

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