Women are disproportionately impacted by conflicts and disasters. The World Health Organization reports that disasters such as droughts, floods, and storms kill more women than men as a result of structural gender inequalities, including women’s lack of influence or control over decision-making. A majority of the 1 in 8 people around the world who experience hunger are women. About two-thirds of Syrian refugees worldwide are women or children.
And what can be done to more greatly promote women as agents of change?
- Put women at the helm in times of disaster. – There is increasing evidence that women’s leadership and involvement contributes to better disaster preparedness and risk reduction,more effective and efficient response, and stronger peace building.
- Lead locally. – While transforming gender roles is a project that will take generations, it can be jump-started in moments of crisis. And international NGOs can play an important role in making that change by putting local actors in the lead. As we work to redress power imbalances in the humanitarian system, women leaders are an important constituency that deserves greater attention.
- Provide training and resources. – We must view and support women as active agents in humanitarian action. With training and resources, capable local organizations can provide the support people require, including preparing for and preventing disasters, promoting gender equality, and paying attention to the different needs of women and girls.
When women’s voices, leadership, and needs are prioritized, whole nations benefit.