Meaningful participatory processes are needed to give a voice to all community members. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction advocates gender mainstreaming in policy planning and in the implementation of disaster risk-reduction programmes, recognizing that women as well as men need to be active partners in preventing environmental degradation. In Viet Nam, the initiative ‘Strengthening Institutional Capacity for Disaster Risk Management’ aims for women to be effectively represented and heard at all levels of disaster risk management, including in leadership positions. In 2014, over 200 women were trained to carry out community-based disaster risk assessments and contribute to local natural disaster prevention and control plans.
Broadening access to education has been shown to be more effective against the effects of climate change than investment in infrastructure such as sea walls and irrigation systems. Countries with a higher proportion of women having at least secondary education had significantly lower rates of disaster fatalities, possibly due to the role women play in enhancing communication and information exchange among family and community members. Traditional, local and indigenous knowledge has also proved valuable to early warning systems related to disasters and climate change adaptation and resilience; with women playing a significant role in transmitting indigenous knowledge.
Achieving peaceful, stable and sustainable development requires addressing climate change and reducing the pressures on natural resources; we need everyone’s expertise, knowledge and skills to make that a reality.