Women’s participation in decision-making is enshrined in international human rights frameworks including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, yet there is still great disparity in the number of women playing a leadership role in disaster risk management.
Gender discrimination limits the control that women and girls have over decisions that govern their lives, as well as their access to resources and opportunities. This heightens their exposure to risk, which often results in women and girls experiencing higher mortality, morbidity and loss of livelihoods during disasters. Disasters exacerbate pre-existing gender inequalities and compound intersecting forms of discrimination against, for example, women living with disabilities, women living in poverty, and women with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. Yet the vulnerability and exposure of women and girls to disaster risk is economically, socially and culturally constructed and can be reduced.
Women make up less than a quarter of national-level committees established to respond to COVID-19.
Source: CARE (Fuhrman, Sarah, and Rhodes, Francesca “Where are the women? The conspicuous absence of women in COVID-19 response teams and plans, and why we need them”, CARE, June 2020)
Data from 133 countries shows that women constitute 2.18 million (36 per cent) of elected members in local deliberative bodies. Only two countries have reached 50 per cent.
Source: United Nations Statistics Division. United Nations Global SDG Database. Data as of 1 January 2020
Countries led by women have been more successful in reducing COVID-19 transmission and have suffered six times fewer confirmed death from COVID-19 as countries with governments led by men.
Source: Fioramonti, Lorenzo, et al.,
"Women in Power: It’s a Matter of Life and Death", Social Europe, June 2020.
‘How can I make this better?’
Profiles of women’s leadership in disaster risk reduction in Asia and the Pacific
This collection seeks to recognize and celebrate just a few of the many amazing women leading disaster risk reduction efforts across Asia and the Pacific, in the hope that these profiles will inspire other women doing the same. Women are excellent leaders, yet they are still underrepresented in decision-making and leadership in disaster risk reduction. When you work in a field where you are in the minority, it can feel isolating. Women’s equal participation and leadership in public life, including disaster risk reduction, is both an important goal in itself and essential for reducing disaster risk and achieving a broad range of sustainable development goals.
Dr. Nuraini Rahma Hanifa is the 2021 winner of the WIN DRR Leadership Award for her work as a Rising Star in the field of disaster risk reduction. She works with the Research Center for Geotechnology, Research Organization of Earth Sciences, National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), previously known as Indonesia Institute of Sciences (LIPI). Rahma founded U-INSPIRE Indonesia in 2018 and U-INSPIRE Alliance together with 8 countries in 2019. It is a youth and young professional platform on Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation for the implementation of Sendai Framework DRR.
Vasiti Soko is the winner of the 2021 WIN DRR Leadership Award for Excellence in the field of disaster risk reduction. She is the first female Director of Fiji National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). Since she was appointed in 2019, Vasiti coordinated Fiji’s response to seven tropical cyclones and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Vasiti has worked to ensure effective inter-cluster coordination with a focus on resource mobilisation, leadership, reporting, information sharing, and inclusion of vulnerable groups.
Well-designed disaster risk reduction initiatives that provide for women’s full and effective participation can advance gender equality and women’s empowerment, while achieving sustainable development and disaster risk reduction objectives.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction outlines the inclusive, all-of-society approach that must be taken to reduce disaster risk. It acknowledges both the specific vulnerabilities that women face in disasters, due to pervasive gender inequality that exists across all societies, while recognizing the indispensable role of women in risk reduction efforts. The Sendai Framework emphasizes that a gender equitable and universally accessible approach is key, and it calls for the mobilization of women’s leadership in building resilience.
UNDRR is committed to supporting women’s leadership in disaster risk reduction, including through the flagship Women’s International Network on Disaster Risk Reduction (WIN DRR). We know that diversity in leadership improves organizational performance, and women’s leadership can help ensure more effective, inclusive and gender-responsive disaster risk reduction.
Join the Women's International Network for DRR today!
Leadership is about being able to look at what is happening around you and think, 'How can I make this better?'
Booklet: Women's International Network on Disaster Risk Reduction
The Women's International Network on Disaster Risk Reduction (WIN DRR) is a professional network to support women working in disaster risk reduction, in all their diversity. The overall goal of WIN DRR is to empower women to attain leadership and enhance their role in decision-making in disaster risk reduction in Asia-Pacific. This booklet aims to provide an introduction to the WIN DRR programme and its four components. WIN DRR is a programme supported by the Government of Australia and UNDRR.
Women’s leadership in risk-resilient development: good practices and lessons learned
This publication aims to shed some light on women’s capabilities to take leading roles in building disaster resilience. It features women as drivers of change in different socio-economic contexts, and under various gender conditions.
The overall goal of the Women's International Network on Disaster Risk Reduction (WIN DRR) is to empower women to attain leadership and enhance their role in decision-making in disaster risk reduction in Asia-Pacific. This collection compiles the profiles of women that contribute to reducing disaster risk in their communities.