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As part of 2021’s International Women’s Day and the month of celebrations that followed, the AHA Centre was engaged in an array of events and discussions promoting and highlighting women’s roles in disaster management and leadership. AHA Centre staff participated through online platforms, and the Centre’s Executive Director Ms Adelina Kamal was a keynote speaker for a number of these interesting events.

A key event was the virtual discussion held by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Women’s International Network for Disaster Risk Reduction (WIN DRR), UN Women and UNDRR’s Regional Office for Asia and Pacific. It engaged some of the Asia-Pacific region’s leading women in disaster management, and saw an array of diverse and inspiring women leaders sharing insights and concerns related to women’s role in disaster and the wider community – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Mami Mizutori, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, probed key areas of governance and participatory strategies by highlighting the need to ask government “Have you included woman in the making of strategies? Are women part of the decision-making and part of the implementation of these strategies?”. “If the answers are no” she continued, “then we need to strongly urge governments to involve women to get their feedback on the strategies”.

Ms Marian Grace L. Ticzon, a Youth Advocate from the National Rural Women Coalition in the Philippines, also brought some fresh and different insights to the discussion, speaking about some of the key issues faced by rural women and youth. “First are the pre-existing issues faced by most rural women and young women, in particular a lack of access to resources and basic services. Infrastructure and access to health services are barriers, as many live in remote areas and have difficulties accessing transport to health centres and services.” “Second is a lack of access to information” Ms Ticzon continued, “as many rural women don’t have an internet connection, particularly if they live in a remote area”.

AHA Centre Executive Director Ms Adelina Kamal spoke about leadership during crisis – among other important topics – and called on women to engage from early on to lead and support their communities.

“Leadership is tested during crisis, but leadership can also be moulded during crisis. It takes a skilled swordsmith and the hottest fire to forge a sword. The swordsmith can be our teacher or mentor that provides us with the great opportunity to learn, and the fire is the crisis that will make us versatile in future battle”.
– Adelina Kamal

Other key speakers also shared their insights on women’s leadership during the pandemic, including presentations from Ms Bandana Rana (UN CEDAW Community), Ms Emeline Siale Ilolahia (Executive Director of PIANGO), and Ms Michelle Chivunga N, (Founder/CEO Global Policy House). The discussion was moderated by Ms Elizabeth Puranam from Aljazeera, and set the tone to further advance the movement of women leaders within the disaster management sector, and under the pandemic context in general.

Another key event during the last month was the “Women Leaders in Building Disaster Resilience” held on March 31 by ARISE Philippines – a local subsidiary of ARISE (the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies) – who is a UNDRR-led network of private sector entities committed to support and implement the Sendai Framework and other key development policies. The event was implemented to recognise the important role of women participation and leadership in disaster risk reduction and resilience. Finally, another event that engaged Ms Kamal as a speaker was held by Asashi Shimbun, a newspaper from Japan, called Think Gender. Ms Kamal spoke to to inspire women, especially in Japan, to become leaders across an array of sectors and contexts.


Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit: AHA Centre.