31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Mar 01, 2022 / 21:05

Women, girls should be center of natural disaster policies

Women should be empowered to meet their own needs and help others cope with natural disasters and climate change.

Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Country Representative of UN Women in Vietnam, has called for Vietnamese policymakers to mainstream gender in policies and programs on the mitigation of natural disasters, climate, and environment.

Speaking at a policy dialogue jointly held by the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) and the UN Women in Hanoi on February 28, she said climate, environmental, and natural disaster policies and programs should put women and girls at the center of decision-making.

Elisa Fernandez added that local women in the areas affected by climate change could contribute effectively to efforts to adapt to climate change and enhance resilience and sustainable development if they receive adequate support to improve their livelihoods and capacity.

  Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Country Representative of UN Women in Vietnam makes her speech. Photo: Hoang Thao

“Gender equality is therefore regarded as a basis for effective disaster response and climate change adaptation activities, and also a mechanism for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” Fernandez affirmed.

The dialogue, discussing strengthening women’s livelihoods and resilience to climate change in Vietnam, forms part of the project “EmPower: Strengthening Human Rights and Gender Equality through Climate Actions and Disaster Risk Reduction”, which is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Challenges facing women in climate-resilient livelihood restoration after the Covid-19 pandemic drew special attention of delegates to the policy dialogue.

Vice President of the Vietnam Women’s Union Nguyen Thi Minh Huong speaks at the dialogue. Photo: Hoang Thao

Addressing the event, VWU Vice President Nguyen Thi Minh Huong pointed out gender stereotypes in the role and contribution of women in natural disaster combat and climate change response, stressing that women have the capacity to create resources for natural disaster adaptation and mitigation.

Huong added that women should be empowered to meet their own needs, helping themselves, their families and communities cope with extreme weather events caused by climate change.

For her part, Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Mawe briefed the delegates on Sweden’s “feminist foreign policy,” and emphasized the responsibility of policymakers for forming a resilient community.

Vietnam is one of the most vulnerable countries to and most affected by climate change and disasters. It is ranked ninth according to the Global Climate Risk Index. In Vietnam, 65.76% of the population lives in rural areas. Agriculture employs around half of the labor force and is by far the main source of livelihood for ethnic minorities.

Most rural women are engaged in smallholder farming and subsistence agriculture with less access to information, resources, credit, markets, vocational training, and extension services, especially those from poor and ethnic minority households. This limits their ability to adapt and build resilience to climate change.