Remarks by Hon. Henry Puna, PIF Secretary General
Women’s International Network for Disaster Risk Reduction – 2021 WIN DRR Awards
13 October 2021
Warm greetings from the Blue Pacific, and thank you for the honour to participate in this panel.
The Pacific is on the front line of climate change, and disaster risk. We are frequently exposed to extreme natural events, and the impacts are devastating – particularly on our most vulnerable – our women, children, our elderly, and persons with disabilities.
Women face relatively higher risks and greater burdens – as many are reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods. At times, they also have the least capacity to respond to disasters. This is exacerbated by a lack of space in decision-making processes, planning, policymaking to guide response to natural disasters, in such a way that will account for their needs.
We all acknowledge that inclusivity and equal participation, are critical for our societies to become more resilient and sustainable, particularly, given the current context we contend with – COVID-19, economic hardship, and the impacts of climate change.
In this context, we need to ask ourselves, what can we do to bring about real change?
At the regional level, we are reviewing the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, a commitment by Pacific Leaders way back in 2012, to ensure equality and non-discriminatory practices across the Pacific, for all our Pacific women.
Furthermore, Forum Leaders have established a Pacific Women’s Leaders Meeting, that will have carriage of the revitalized Pacific Gender Equality Declaration, and monitor its implementation amongst other important functions.
The review and the establishment of this Women’s Leaders meeting, take into account our triple-pronged crisis, and endeavours to ensure that we get the right policy settings, to address issues needed to bring about better outcomes, for our Pacific women.
To answer the question, male champions can and do contribute to real change in this space. Male champions can use their influence, to provide the necessary policy space, for women to meaningfully participate in making decisions regarding their safety and needs, during times of disaster. Male Champions can bring to the forefront, the contributions that women make as being critical for resilient leadership, not just in the Pacific, but indeed across the whole world.
We all know that our women understand vulnerability, exposure, and risk, and can provide their own wisdom and knowledge, to the conversations that are required to meet the challenges of today, as well as of the future! Coupled with the support of male champions, we can only achieve better and more resilient futures!
This is the diversity of views that is required, to bring out the creativity and innovation required for real change!
Therefore, these awards are part of the process. They encourage and inspire women, to provide leadership in disaster risk reduction at the family, community, and national level. This is why it gives me great pleasure to be here, to witness and celebrate the many achievements of our women, in disaster risk reduction.
I therefore urge all our Pacific men, continue to support our women in their efforts.
I congratulate all the nominees and awardees of the 2021 WIN DRR awards. You must not stop here. Continue to aspire for greater things in the future.
I also congratulate the UNDRR and all others who helped to make these awards possible.
I thank you once again for this opportunity.-ENDS
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