Launch of Gender Equality Strategy and Learning Pathways set to strengthen women’s representation in Pacific disaster response

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Disasters impact everyone, but not everyone gets to have their voice heard when it comes to deciding on the kind of assistance needed after disasters strike. Too often, women are left on the sidelines of these important discussions.

Recognising the role everyone plays in disaster preparedness and response is critical to building and supporting a more resilient Pacific into the future.

On 27 August 2020, the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Pacific Islands Emergency Management Alliance (PIEMA) project launched the PIEMA “Responding Together: Strategy for gender equality in disaster management in the Pacific” and “Becoming a leader: A leadership learning pathway for PIEMA member agencies.”

Responding as a community is core to Pacific culture especially in times of disaster. PIEMA is committed to strengthening effective community disaster management through enhancing and supporting equal representation of both men and women.

Enhancing this strategy is the ‘Learning Pathways’, a semi-structured framework designed to help PIEMA agencies staff strengthen and enhance their leadership skills.

PIEMA is making learning a priority by focusing on professionalisation and sustainability through accredited training of national trainers, and the establishment of multi-agency disaster management training groups.

When officiating the launch, SPC’s Deputy Director-General, Dr Audrey Aumua said “Over the years, we have worked hard within SPC to provide a responsive and adaptive service to the Pacific”. She went on to say “As PIEMA agencies, I encourage your ongoing engagement with SPC in implementing these important initiatives, and I look forward to seeing results of this good work.”

On behalf of the development partners, Erin Magee, DFAT’s Pacific Humanitarian Specialist said "I am pleased that through support from Australia and New Zealand SPC, the PIEMA project was able to work with the Humanitarian Advisory Group to develop these two important documents to provide practical, simple advice to disaster management specialists across the region enabling them to support gender equality and in particular, support to women leaders in the sector"

In addition to the launch, women working across the Pacific in the disaster management sector were able to share their stories and highlight the value they bring to their roles in the community.

The role of women in emergency management and as first responders is a critical step towards a more resilient Pacific region. As a result of climate change the predictions show there will be more climate-related disasters that will be more intense. Ensuring women first responders are there to support our Pacific communities is critical for our capacity to respond and for future generations, as we adapt to the new normal.

About the Project:
The Pacific Islands Emergency Management Alliance (PIEMA) helps strengthen the co-ordinated approach emergency services need to take when preparing for, responding to and recovering from disaster. 

It focuses on building trust, leadership and teamwork in response agencies whilst creating common language, systems and doctrines to ensure consistent and credible information can be collected and used in times of crisis.

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