Message from the Director General

Celebrating the International Day for Disaster Reduction

Kathmandu, Nepal, 12 October 2012

Celebrating and Strengthening the Resilience of Mountain Women and Girls to Natural Hazards

On 12 October, ICIMOD joins the global community in celebrating the International Day for Disaster Reduction, which in 2012 has the theme ‘Women and Girls: the [In]visible Force of Resilience’. 

Disasters affect everyone – men, women, and children from all classes and social groups. However, pre-existing social conditions tend to marginalize women and girls and often put additional stress on them during the process of post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation. In mountain communities, women can play a crucial role in protecting, nurturing, and sustaining natural resources. However, they are often disadvantaged in terms of power relations and access to resources. During disasters women are exposed to increased risks including further marginalization, exclusion from decision-making processes, dislocation from the resources necessary for survival, and exacerbated risk of being trafficked for forced labour or the sex trade. The loss of income and livelihoods as a result of the effects of climate shocks makes recovery even more difficult. 

Nevertheless, these challenges and social biases cannot undermine the spirit of women, their sense of commitment to their family and community, and their ability to survive and lead their families back to normalcy. When women are forced to take on roles that would not normally be considered women’s roles in order to ensure the survival of their families during disasters, they often display ingenuity in creating unique livelihood strategies to meet immediate family needs. 

ICIMOD is committed to supporting and promoting the Hyogo Framework for Action, which states that gender perspectives should be integrated into all disaster risk management policies, plans, and decision-making processes, including those related to risk assessment, early warning, information management, and education and training. Similarly, as a regional, intergovernmental organization, ICIMOD strives to pursue the Beijing Agenda for Global Action on Gender-Sensitive Disaster Risk Reduction, which outlines practical action for building gender-effective disaster resilience at the local and national levels. ICIMOD also promotes the principles of the Delhi Declaration, which calls for greater political commitment to mainstreaming gender in disaster risk reduction and encourages governments to carry out gender-sensitive vulnerability, risk, and capacity assessments and monitoring; to make special efforts to mainstream gender issues in disaster risk reduction strategies to reduce the vulnerability of women; and to recognize the important role women can play in disaster risk reduction.

Since its establishment in 1983, ICIMOD has been dedicated to exploring ways to reduce the risks associated with natural hazards, with a focus on regional and transboundary cooperation. ICIMOD's disaster risk reduction activities reflect knowledge and learning from the ground and are aimed at understanding the differential vulnerabilities and coping capacities of women and men and promoting gender-sensitive disaster management in the mountains. ICIMOD is committed to strengthening gender-sensitive policies and practices in disaster early warning systems, community-based disaster risk reduction, and the disaster response protocol of partner agencies and organizations in the greater Himalayan region. 

ICIMOD salutes the spirit of survival and resilience of women and girls to hazards in the harsh conditions of the greater Himalayas and recognizes the central role they can have in disaster risk reduction and recovery. ICIMOD will continue to examine the complexities of disaster vulnerability and to make efforts to reduce gender gaps in development and disaster risk management through research, training, and policy recommendations. 

With best wishes to all,

Dr David Molden

IDDR 2012
This woman’s home, where she spends a majority of her time doing domestic work and caring for her family, was built next to the Koshi River in Nepal, putting her in direct risk of flash floods. Photo: Nabin Baral/ICIMOD

This woman’s home, where she spends a majority of her time doing domestic work and caring for her family, was built next to the Koshi River in Nepal, putting her in direct risk of flash floods.
Photo: Nabin Baral/ICIMOD