The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) came into being in December 2009. It has played a tremendous role in enhancing regional and national capacities for disaster response in the region. The recent ‘ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management’ document provides thoughtful insights on how AADMER can move towards a more people-centred, sustainable and better-networked approach. But these suggestions do not directly address the disproportionate impact disasters have on women.
The UN Security Council’s first resolution on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda was launched in October 2000. Although it was developed with the plight of women in conflict settings in mind, the WPS agenda itself is not just about conflict or even just about women. It is a transformative agenda that seeks to create sustainable peace, ensure greater participation and facilitate the move from gender inequality to gender justice. In its broader vision the agenda resonates with the objectives of the ASEAN Community post-2015 and is contiguous with ASEAN’s human rights agenda.
It is critical that the WPS agenda becomes an important component of disaster response planning and management. There is ample evidence that women are disproportionately affected both during disasters and in response settings. For example, an Oxfam report in 2005 highlighted how women and girls were extremely affected by the 2004 tsunami, stressing their disproportionately high mortality rates. A 2007 study on disasters in 141 countries revealed that gender differences in mortality rates were directly related to women’s economic and social rights, and that men and boys were given preferential treatment during rescue operations. Beyond the immediate effects, both women and girls suffered more acutely from shortages of food and economic resources.
The four pillars that bolster the WPS agenda — prevention, participation, protection, and relief and recovery — correspond to the objectives outlined in AADMER and could be adapted into its framework. To become a more effective tool, AADMER should incorporate an explicitly gendered perspective on disaster response.
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Last updated on 21/06/2016