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Action brief: gender and disaster risk reduction and response in the context of COVID-19: the Asia-Pacific region - December 2020

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KEY MESSAGES: advancing gender-responsive disaster risk reduction in the context of COVID-19

• LEVERAGE INTERNATIONAL GUIDELINES AND MINIMUM STANDARDS ON GENDER EQUALITY

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women’s (CEDAW) General Recommendation 37 explicitly links disasters, pandemics and women’s rights in an actionable way with guidance to State Parties to ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to disaster management and humanitarian response. This is particularly applicable when responding to pandemics such as COVID-19 and implementation of these recommendations, as well as the adoption of minimum standards and application of guidelines such as those in the Ha Noi Recommendations for Action on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction or the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Policy on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls (GEEWG) in Humanitarian Action will ensure those most affected are not left behind.

• COLLECT AND USE SEX, AGE AND DISABILITY DISAGGREGATED DATA

Without quality sex, age and disability disaggregated data, alongside gender analysis, vulnerability and risk assessments will fail to adequately identify who is the most impacted and how. COVID-19 socio-economic assessments need to overlay disaster risk assessments to uncover which groups of people are most impacted by the double disaster context.

• ADAPT EXISTING DISASTER RISK REDUCTION SYSTEMS UTILISING GENDER EXPERTISE

Basic human rights principles of accountability, participation, non-discrimination and inclusions are fundamental to gender-responsive disaster risk reduction. While adapting disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response polices, plans and action to include COVID-19 prevention, response and recovery, the needs and priorities of vulnerable and marginalised groups need to be at the centre and gender actors and focal points need to be leveraged, including through protection clusters.

• ADVANCE EXISTING COMMITMENTS TO SUPPORT LOCAL WOMEN-FOCUSED ORGANIZATIONS

Recognised for their ability to reach local communities and prioritise marginalised groups, women-focused organisations need the resources and authority to lead and carry out disaster risk management and COVID-19 prevention and response simultaneously.

• SEEK OUT AND SUPPORT WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP

Local women leaders, along with women-focused organisations, are embedded in their communities and possess the skills and knowledge to effectively reach the most marginalised and vulnerable.
Investment to create an enabling environment and further strengthen women leaders in all their diversity to be active in inclusive disaster management and COVID-19 is needed.