ILOILO City-The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the United Nations Population Fund is preparing social workers to implement women-friendly disaster response.
The two organizations recently trained DSWD workers on the execution of a Women Friendly Space (WFS). IRC shouldered the expenses during the training while UNFPA provided the resource person.
The WFS is a facility that utilizes a strategy in mainstreaming gender as a cross cutting issue in providing humanitarian responses in evacuation camps, transitional sites or disaster affected communities. It addresses the specific needs of women affected by the disaster and provides a more systematic, organized and gender-responsive way of delivering services.
Graciela Van der Poel of the UNFPA stressed that, “during emergencies women and girls take on additional roles and responsibilities, have differentiated needs along the humanitarian continuum—all phases of an emergency, face more restrictions than men when accessing humanitarian assistance, frequently under-represented in assistance committees and have less opportunities to exercise leadership in humanitarian response and women and girls are seen as victims, not as key humanitarian actors.”
DSWD Institutional Development Division (IDD) head Rebecca Geamala, who also represented the agency before International Humanitarian Organizations (IHOs) who worked on disaster recovery in Western Visayas after Typhoon Yolanda, said that gaps noted after the onslaught of the storm included mixed population of men and women in evacuation centers which left women and girls prone and vulnerable to abuse because they lived together in one roof.
“Another is that it took weeks for breastfeeding sites to be put up thus lactating mothers did not have the privacy when they had to breastfeed their babies. And generally, in times of disasters, women and children are vulnerable to abuses. When houses are destroyed and they have nowhere to go, it is the women and children who suffer the most,” Geamala said.
WFS: A SAFER PLACE FOR WOMEN VICTIMS OF YOLANDA
Van der Poel said that while gaps were noted immediately after the disaster, the DSWD, with the involvement of other National Government Agencies (NGAs), and Local Government Units (LGUs) and support of the IHOs worked on establishment of WFS for Yolanda victims.
Currently, there are five WFS established. These are located in Guinticgan and Cawayan in Carles, Iloilo; Botongon, Estancia in Iloilo; and Punta Cogon and Cagay in Roxas City, Capiz.
The WFS operates on various phases, including services under welfare-provision of basic requirements for food and non-food items, medical and reproductive health; psychosocial support and referrals to LGUs should it be necessary; services under access—such as cash for work, coupon or food for work, sustainable livelihood for women, basic business management or entrepreneurial skills training; and services under participation which means giving women venue for leadership and participation.
Geamala said that with the training, establishment of WFS will be much more fast for the LGUs since DSWD workers will provide them with technical assistance.
For her part, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Unit head Judith Tanate said that purchase of tents and gender-sensitive supplies such as brassieres, underwears, sanitary pads, hygiene kit, flash lights and whistles in preparation for disasters will be considered in the next work and financial planning.
“We also call on LGUs to allocate funds for purchase of these supplies. On top of it all, we encourage them to involve men, women, boys and girls in decision-making particularly on preparedness activities,” Tanate said./dswd6/May Rago-Castillo