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October 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Fiji’s inaugural National Summit for Building Resilience to Climate Change (NSBRCC) opened today in Labasa focused on women’s role in Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change.

Addressing participants, Permanent Secretary for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Govind Sami described women as the “invisible force of resilience’, hence must not be neglected in disaster preparedness, mitigation and rehabilitation.

He said differences in socioeconomic and cultural circumstances often mean increased vulnerability and longer term disadvantage for women following a disaster.

“During disaster women face restricted access, to the resources that are essential in disaster preparedness, mitigation and rehabilitation,” Sami added.

He said in the aftermath of disasters women are directly impacted in their role as providers of basic needs of the household.

“Fetching fuel, firewood, water, harvesting and preparing food, or taking care of the ill, wounded members of family is their responsibility,” Sami said.

He added that without disaster preparedness or effective coping mechanisms the increased domestic and economic burden placed on women can have long term consequences, particularly for gender equality.

Hence welcomed moves by governments who are working on risk reduction in the context of development.

“Because development can either reduce or increase people’s vulnerability or risks to disasters, there is a greater need to integrate disaster risk assessment into development planning and programmes so to make development more resilient to natural hazards,” Sami said.

The NSBRCC is a 2-day event that is being held at the Civic Centre in Labasa and is hosted by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature’s South Pacific Programmes Office.

Discussions on day one revolve around Gender and Mainstreaming of issues of Climate Change.

By Indrani Krishna

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