African Risk Capacity (ARC) and UN Women join forces to integrate gender into disaster risk management

28 September 2021

ARC and UN Women MOU - Sept 2021

ICMIF member the African Risk Capacity (ARC, South Africa) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote integration of gender equality in disaster risk management (DRM).

Under the MoU, signed by the heads of both institutions, the parties will jointly engage in high-level advocacy, communication, dialogue, awareness-building, knowledge development and sharing and resource mobilisation leveraging the influence of both agencies to pursue a stronger political engagement for gender and DRM in the Sahel (the vast, semi-arid region of Africa separating the Sahara Desert to the north and tropical savannas to the south) and other African countries.

Underscoring the importance of the partnership, Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Director General of the ARC Group and United Nations Assistant Secretary General (UN ASG), stated the impacts of natural disasters do not affect all people equally and that adopting an inclusive and gender-sensitive approach will help strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities for better climate adaptation.

According to Mr Diong: “Disasters are gender neutral, but the impacts are not same for everyone, therefore inclusive gender equality is a cross-cutting priority area in our work. We believe that the partnership with UN Women will be mutually beneficial to achieving our common objective to raise awareness on gender perspectives in DRM and increase the knowledge of our Members States through full utilisation of the innovative tools we have developed for analysing vulnerability levels for women and men in the wake of natural perils.”

Recently, ARC collaborated with the African Union Commission’s Directorate of Sustainable Environment and Blue Economy under the Department for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment and other partners, to launch the Gender and Disaster Risk Management Platform (GDRMP). The Platform aims to promote knowledge development and sharing, advocacy and policy dialogue on gender transformative DRM approaches geared towards the adoption of a gender transformative ‘culture of insurance’ by Member States. This is in addition to the ARC Gender Transformative Fund which aims to help unlock needed resources to build Member States’ capacity for gender mainstreaming in disaster risk management.

Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, UN Women, highlighted the importance for a joint approach in raising awareness on the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of vulnerable populations in the region saying: ”Natural disasters and other shocks disproportionally affect women and girls and often lead to higher loss of lives and livelihoods and often result in a gendered negative spiral of vulnerability and poverty, leaving women and girls disproportionately vulnerable to future shocks and crises. Joining forces with ARC will be crucial to ensure that decision makers at the highest level are well informed when planning DRM responses, and that women and girls are at the centre of their policies.”

ARC and UN Women support the approach that knowledge of disaster exposure and vulnerability indexes of women and men to natural disasters will assist in determining key drivers for preparedness and coping capacity towards advancing socioeconomic resilience, better development outcomes, and more sustainable solutions for affected populations.

Photo shows (left to right): Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, UN Women; Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Director-General of the ARC Group, UN-ASG; and Siaka Coulibaly, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Senegal at the signing of the MoU in Dakar, Senegal on 16 September 2021.

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