Protection and Gender in Emergency Response for Solomon Islands
Date: Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Honiara, Solomon Islands — Women and girls are often first responders in crises and, when given the opportunity, have the capacity to lead in disaster preparation, response and resilience building. A new project to strengthen this capacity through protection and gender in humanitarian response in the Solomon Islands was launched by UN Women and the Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) today.
The project is implemented by the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family's Affairs and the Solomon Islands Protection Committee to localize disaster response and coordination, and was launched by UN Women Director of Program Division Maria Noel Vaeza who is currently visiting UN Women’s Pacific programmes.
“We at the Fiji MCO are excited to be supporting the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family's Affairs and the Solomon Islands Protection Committee. Given the high levels of exposure to hazards that the Solomon Islands faces, these localization efforts will play a critical role in disaster risk reduction efforts.” said UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Representative a.i., Nicolas Burniat.
Solomon Islands has high vulnerability to natural disasters and global evidence indicates that women are generally at a higher risk of being affected by disasters and have different and uneven levels of resilience and capacity to recover. This is particularly true in Solomon Islands, where women experience significant gender inequality, lower socio-economic status compared to men, lower access to paid employment, lower access to information and early warnings, less control and access to economic resources and high levels of sexual and gender-based violence.
“The Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs must be applauded for taking this direction to integrate gender equality and social inclusion into humanitarian response. Based on our experience in past emergency response, the needs and rights of people with disability, women and children were not met,” said Co-Chair of the National Protection Committee, Dolores Devesi, who is also the Country Director for Oxfam in Solomon Islands.
“As a member of the Solomon Islands Protection Committee, Oxfam Solomon Islands is committed to support this project and is confident of the Ministry’s leadership and project delivery. Oxfam is also a lead humanitarian agency where gender and protection remain a core commitment to our preparedness, response and recovery efforts,” she said.
WPHF funding will allow for the rapid localization of humanitarian response and disaster risk reduction in the Solomon Islands through the establishment and capacity building of Provincial Protection Committees in Isabel and Makira.
In localizing the gender and protection committee to the provincial level, Solomon Islands will lead the way on integrating gender equality into humanitarian response at multiple scales, ensuring response is inclusive, effective, efficient, and empowering. Given that disasters impact people according to their gender and other diversity factors, an inclusive approach to how we plan and carry out humanitarian action and the effectiveness of our action is critical across multiple levels of governance.
Planned activities under the project include the establishment of two Provincial Protection Committees in Solomon Islands (Makira and Isabel Provinces) and support for them to strengthen links to rural and local areas. The Project will also develop and revise data collection methods to better monitor outcomes for population groups at higher risk of being impacted by disasters (e.g. women and girls, people with disabilities) and build the protection capacity of national and provincial emergency response teams, including response to gender-based violence survivors and people with disabilities.
“We are thrilled to see this project putting women and girls of the Solomon Islands at the heart of localization strategies for disaster response. Globally, humanitarian action has had limited input from the experience of these marginalized groups, and enhancing their participation in crises response is a key objective of the Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund,” said WPHF Head of Secretariat, Ghita El Khyari.
The project activities began in September this year and are expected to end in September 2020.
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Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action and Disaster Risk Reduction Programme
In the Pacific, cyclones, floods and droughts are increasing in both intensity and frequency, with devastating impact, especially on women and girls who are 14 times more likely than men to die or be injured. In addition, the skills of many Pacific women are often under-utilised in disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
The Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action programme works to strengthen the capacity of humanitarian actors in the Pacific to integrate gender and protection in their work, and to lead the mainstreaming of gender and protection through the entire humanitarian system at national levels in countries across the Pacific region. Additionally, UN Women aims to strengthen the role of women as key actors in humanitarian action. UN Women provides leadership to the regional Pacific Humanitarian Protection Cluster, bringing together together UN agencies, regional and international organisations with local authorities to identify and fulfill the needs of impacted communities.
Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF)
The Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) is a flexible and rapid financing mechanism. It supports quality interventions to enhance the capacity of local women to prevent conflict, respond to crises and emergencies, and seize key peacebuilding opportunities. As the WPHF is a partnership between Member States, UN, and civil society, all stakeholders are represented on its Funding Board. UN Women globally provides secretariat support and ensures coordination to implement the decisions of the Funding Board with UN Women Fiji MCO chairing the Pacific steering committee with members including UN OCHA, UNFPA, UNDP, IFRC, femLINKpacific, Pacific Forum Island Secretariat and Australian DFAT. WPHF donors currently include: Australia, Canada, Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom, Liechtenstein and Lithuania.