Pohnpei, FSM – Sixty-one (61) participants from key national and state government agencies and civil society organizations in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) gathered for a three-day workshop on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in Disasters and Climate Change recently. The training which included 35 women and 26 men highlighting the importance of mainstreaming protection, gender and social inclusion issues into development programs that seek to build the resilience of people and communities.

The workshop was organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Emergency Management (DECEM), and The Pacific Community’s (SPC), Human Rights and Social Development Division (HRSD), under the Project “Enhancing Disaster and Climate Resilience in FSM through Improved Disaster Preparedness and Infrastructure (EDCR FSM)” funded by the Government of Japan. 

Pacific Community gender support was provided under the Progressing Gender Equality in Pacific Island Countries (PGEP) initiative. PGEP is funded by the Government of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as part of the programme Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development.

UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative Levan Bouadze said, “We are strongly committed to working with our partners from government, civil society and the development community to take concrete actions to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as an essential and cross-cutting strategy in our resilience programmes.”

In his opening remarks, Ambassador of Japan to FSM, H.E. Hidenobu Sobashima cited the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which emphasizes that “Women and their participation are critical to effectively managing disaster risk and designing, resourcing and implementing gender-sensitive disaster risk reduction policies, plans and programmes.”

The workshop brought together participants from various government offices such as social affairs, public safety, transportation and infrastructure, resources and development, and water utilities, together with civil society representatives from women’s associations and youth groups.

It involved presentations on key gender, human rights, disaster and climate change policies and frameworks at the global level and in FSM, as well as group brainstorming to formulate specific recommendations to mainstream GESI into the EDCR FSM Project.

Due to the travel restriction caused by COVID-19, the workshop was organized in five locations namely, Palikir, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap which were connected via Zoom with facilitators located in Vanuatu, Australia, and Fiji.

“FSM is exposed to different hazards such as typhoons and droughts which if not addressed properly, may lead to dire consequences such as loss of human life,” said DECEM Secretary Andrew Yatilman.

“In 2013, the nation-wide Integrated Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Policy was approved by the FSM government. The criticality of addressing gender concerns and issues involving marginalized groups is clearly recognized as a guiding principle in this policy declaration,” stressed Yatilman.

The EDCR FSM Project seeks to strengthen resilience in FSM through its various activities, particularly in disaster communications, emergency operations, debris management, fire rescue services, and water resources management.

“It is important to acknowledge that disasters and climate change affect individuals differently. People who are disadvantaged because of their gender, age, ethnicity and socio-economic status may not cope as well to the impact of natural hazards than those who do not have these vulnerabilities,” said Miles Young, Director of HRSD at SPC.

Among the ongoing and planned initiatives of the EDCR FSM Project are the construction of the Pohnpei State Emergency Operations Center, provision of fire and tree-clearing trucks in Kosrae, and deep well rehabilitation and water treatment in Chuuk and Yap.

“A gender lens as well as safeguards for social inclusion must be a key part of a disaster and climate change program especially in the context of a region such as the Pacific which is culturally diverse,” Young added.

EDCR FSM project was initiated in March 2019, to improve the capacity for preparedness and mitigation to human-made, geo-physical, climate and related hazards and enhancing resilience to climate change impact. 

The EDCR FSM Project is financed by the Government of Japan, whose programs have been actively supporting disaster risk reduction and gender worldwide.

The Government of Japan has been hosting the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction since 1994. The last one held in 2015, led to the 2015-2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Since 2014, the Japanese Government has also hosted the World Assembly for Women (WAW!) for five times with the aim of providing a space for dialogue on women’s empowerment globally.

The three-day workshop was held from 6 - 8 October 2020 in FSM.

Contact Information

Anthony de la Cruz, Country Project Coordinator - FSM, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji; anthony.de.la.cruz@undp.org Tel: +691 320 4456;

Kalpana Nizarat, HRSD Communications Officer, Pacific Community; kalpanan@spc.int

Samantha Rina, HRSD Communications, Visibility and Engagement Officer (PGEP Project), Email: samanthar@spc.int

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