With the theme “Climate Action: Women hold the key”, the roundtable was participated in by local women, policy makers and development partners to hear the difference that women’s participation can make, particularly in the current emergency response to drought and saltwater intrusion in Vietnam.
At the roundtable, four women who have played an active role in climate change response and disaster management in Ben Tre, Bac Kan, Dong Thap and Thua Thien - Hue show their presentations. These are among the provinces most at risk from climate change and disasters in Vietnam. The women shared their experiences of how climate change has impacted their lives, the challenges they continue to face, and what solutions they have developed to address the situation.
Both men and women must be engaged in disaster preparedness, climate change adaptation and mitigation if they are to succeed. In many places in Vietnam, women are proactive in disaster preparedness and response. They have capacities, talents, skills and knowledge that should be capitalized upon. However, women’s roles and contribution to disaster risk management haven’t been recognized. Women’s participation in decision-making in local formal political and management structures remains low. This has implications for the ability to respond to disasters in gender sensitive ways.
“Women are playing an important role in dealing with climate change and disasters. They are the first ones to take care of family members when disasters strike. Disaster risk reduction planning and adaptation to climate change will not be successful without including the perspectives of women. Community resilience to disasters cannot be achieved without increasing the resilience of women. We need to capitalize on women’s resourcefulness as we tackle the challenges of climate change,” said Ms. Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Country Representative in Vietnam.
In the second part of the event, the participants proposed solutions to increase women’s participation in the design and implementation of gender responsive climate policies. They also discussed how to translate grassroots experiences into policy and what to do to support and promote women’s capacity and knowledge. This will enable women to become catalysts of sustainable practices in their own communities.
Vietnam is one of the countries most vulnerable to, and most affected by climate change and disasters. The Global Climate Risk Index 2015 for the period of 1994-2013 ranked Vietnam in seventh place. With the majority of the population living in low-lying river basins and coastal areas, it is estimated that more than 70% of the population is at risk of multiple hazards. Extreme disasters in the form of flood and storms are more frequent in recent years, causing more damage to people and significantly impacting the economy.
With the impacts of climate change already being felt, it is now more important than ever to mobilize resources from all stakeholders in order to manage natural disasters more effectively. Women’s capacities, skills and knowledge are valuable resources that are not yet being fully harnessed. Putting women at the heart of climate change action will unleash their collective power, and empower them to play a key role in the national efforts to address disaster and climate change./.