Equal access for all

PIEMA is committed to strengthening effective disaster management through enhancing and supporting equal access of both men and women across the sector. Picture: SUPPLIED

Disasters impact everyone. While often sidelined, women must be included in decision-making about the kind of assistance they need during disasters.

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

On August 27 this year, 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 together is core to our culture across the Pacific especially in times of disaster.

PIEMA is committed to strengthening effective disaster management through enhancing and supporting equal access of both men and women across the sector.

Accompanying the strategy is the Learning Pathways that is 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 the professionalisation and sustainability through training development and implementation, accredited training, credentialing of national trainers, and the establishment of multi-agency disaster management training groups.

“Over the years, we have worked hard within SPC to provide a responsive and adaptive service to the Pacific,” SPC’s deputy director-general, Dr Audrey Aumua, said when officiating at the launch.

She says they recognise the importance that all actors in an emergency response are able to share information, communicate and work together.

“It’s about relationships, understanding, engaging and acting in a way that empowers each response agency, amplifies their voice and enables their contributions to a well-co-ordinated and effective response operations,” she said.

She says PIEMA is committed through enhancing and supporting equal access of both men and women across the sector.

“The development of this strategy for gender equality and empowerment will guide the PIEMA project in its engagement across the alliance agencies and promote gender equality and support greater effectiveness in disaster response,” she said.

She said SPC strongly supports the key objectives of the PIEMA project in promoting the role of women as first responders before, during and after disaster and supporting the employment of women in disaster management roles.

“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,” she said.

“I am really pleased that through Australia and New Zealand funding we have been able to support the Pacific Community SPC to work with the Humanitarian Advisory Group and develop a Gender Equality strategy for the disaster management sector, we pleased that this strategy will provide practical, simple advice to disaster management specialists across the region enabling them to identify women leaders in the sector” Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pacific Humanitarian specialist, Erin Magee said.

In addition to the launch, women working across the Pacific in the disaster management sector were highlighted with their stories and the value they bring to their roles.
• Ruben Vulawalu is a PIEMA and PCRAFI communications assistant with Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division (GEM), Pacific Community (SPC). The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of this newspaper.

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