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International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction: Women and Girls, the [in] visible force of Resilience

Dakar, Senegal - To actively engage women and girls in the field of disaster risk reduction and to allow them to be actresses of change and not mere victims, is the message promoted during the International Disaster Risk Reduction Day by the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) working group for Western and Central Africa. This regional working group is composed of 15 regional humanitarian and developmental organizations.

The recurrent and chronic crises that have affected Western and Central Africa lately, such as floods, cholera epidemics, food and nutrition crises in the Sahel, as well as the Malian conflict, have primarily affected the most vulnerable populations, especially women and girls. From the perspective of the Regional Task Force on DRR in West and Central Africa, women have a key role to play in disaster prevention, and should benefit from opportunities to play a more visible role in society. The roles of women and girls are essential to strengthen the resilience of communities. 
"When a disaster occurs, women and girls are not always affected in the same way as men and boys due to existing social differences", declared Jakob Wernerman, Chair of the Regional Task Force on DRR in Western and Central Africa. “For example, we have seen that during a crisis, the distribution of food and medicine can aggravate the discrimination between women and men”.

The ability of women and girls to deal with the effects of disasters directly depends on socio-economic factors that determine their ability to access credit and other resources, along with their level of education.

"We need to include a gender perspective when working with DRR issues and throughout the implementation of humanitarian and development initiatives in order to avoid the increase of vulnerability of the populations of Western Africa", added Marie Thérèse Ndiaye-Onoma , Vice-chair of the DRR Task Force. “Paying particular attention to women and girls in disaster prevention is not only a moral imperative, but it is also a long term financial investment because it will reduce the further needs for disaster response and reconstruction initiatives”.

The Regional Task Force on DRR in Western and Central Africa, encourages the local and national governments, the organizations of civil society, and all other stakeholders to recognize the specific needs of women and girls in the planning of humanitarian and development response and to strengthen their capacity to better prepare their families and communities from the perspective of potential disasters.

Note for the Media

October 13 is devoted to the “International Disaster Risk Reduction Day (IDRRD)” by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) since 1990. This year, it will be celebrated on the 12th of October. For further information please visit the UNISDR website:

The Regional DRR working group for Disaster Risk Reduction in Western and Central Africa includes the following organizations: ACF, Global Bank, ECHO, FAP, IFRC, OCHA, OHCHR, IOM, WHO, OXFAM, WFP, Plan International, Save the Children, UNDP-BCPR, UNCHR, UNICEF and World Vision.

Press contacts

Charles Bambara –  Tel 77 639 41 78
Marie Balde –   Tel  33 859 37 18



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