The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) has set out the commitment of senior officials to gender mainstreaming through the “BNPB Gender Mainstreaming Commitment Document “. This document was signed by all BNPB echelon II officials on October 11, 2023, at the 2023 National Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Month event in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi.
There are three important points stated in the commitment document, namely BNPB’s readiness to support the implementation of gender mainstreaming within BNPB, BNPB’s readiness to implement and integrate gender mainstreaming in programs across all work units, and BNPB’s readiness to carry out monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of gender mainstreaming in its programs.
After the signing of the commitment document, BNPB Planning Bureau Head Andi Eviana said that with the commitment to gender mainstreaming, future disaster management efforts, both implemented by BPNB and the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), are expected to pay more attention to gender aspects. This is very important considering the specific vulnerabilities of women and children in disasters, including vulnerability to gender-based violence. “We really hope gender mainstreaming is considered and implemented. We do not wish for a disaster, but when there is one, as a frontline institution, we need to have insight and know what we must follow up on in the field,” She said.
The signing was carried out as part of the activity “Advocacy for Gender Mainstreaming in Disaster Management”, held as one of the series of events to commemorate the 2023 National DRR Month, supported by the SIAP SIAGA program. The declaration shows the commitment of the Government of Indonesia to continue to promote women’s participation in disaster management efforts before, during, and after disasters and to ensure that the specific needs of vulnerable groups, especially women and girls, are planned for and met in disaster contexts.
In his remarks for the event, the Australian Embassy’s Counsellor, Development Effectiveness and Humanitarian, Simon Ernst, conveyed that gender mainstreaming is very important to effective disaster risk reduction and humanitarian crisis management. “The Australian Government, through the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Disaster Risk Management or SIAP SIAGA Program, is fully committed to continuing its support for the Government of Indonesia’s initiatives and efforts in gender mainstreaming,” he explained.
Assistant Regional Secretary of Southeast Sulawesi Province, Suharno, representing the Central Sulawesi Regional Secretary, explained that the importance of gender mainstreaming has been echoed by the provincial government in its efforts to promote equal opportunities for men and women to participate in, and benefit from, development. In relation to disaster risk and climate change, Suharno said that in Southeast Sulawesi Province, there are a number of areas that are on close watch (waspada) and alert (awas) status. Therefore, the contribution and participation of all parties, including women, to reduce risks and strengthen inclusive disaster mitigation is needed.
The “Advocacy for Gender Mainstreaming in Disaster Management” activity also included a talkshow discussion on the importance, and current status, of the women’s involvement in disaster management. This talkshow brought togheter three speakers, namely Eko Novi Aryanti, Acting Assistant Deputy for Gender Mainstreaming for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection (Kemen PPPA), Melissa Fernandez from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), and Ayu Saraswati, Miss Indonesian for the Environment 2020, guided by Budi Wahyuni as the moderator.
Melissa Fernandez said the risks facing women, girls, men, and boys are not the same. The way each of them responds to disaster risks is also different. That is why gender aspects must be discussed in disaster risk reduction efforts. “For many, talking about gender in the context of disasters is talking about life and death,” she said.
According to her, there are many studies that show that in the context of disasters and climate change, women face a higher risk because of the traditional roles they frequently hold. Due to the effects of climate change, for example, women may have to walk farther to collect clean water for their families as part of their household responsibilities. Furthermore, as we see the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and climate-related disasters, more people are losing their homes or becoming temporarily displaced. In these circumstances, women are often at increased risk of sexual violence, sexual exploitation and abuse. Women from poor families, including widows, have difficulty buying basic necessities, such as water and food, and have difficulty accessing assistance to rebuild homes. In this position, women survivors become more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse.
In addition, in many ASEAN member states, women and girls have reduced access to emergency preparedness training and emergency response simulations. As a result, when disasters occur, the number of casualties among women and adolescent girls is higher. Studies in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia also concluded that women’s lack of participation in disaster risk reduction efforts makes it difficult for women, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, to access appropriate health services and hygiene supplies.. The results of the study show the importance of involving women in all stages of disaster management.
Regarding violence against women, Ayu Saraswati also emphasised the vulnerability of women and girls to gender-based violence (KBG). Even under normal circumstances, KBG is a widespread occurrence, citing a study that indicated that one in four women in Indonesia had experienced KBG. “In a disaster situation, women and girls who are already vulnerable will become even more vulnerable,” she said.
In addition to the difficulty of accessing basic needs, such as food and water, women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, giving birth, or having babies must often deal with poor sanitation and hygiene conditions. According to her, the difficulty of women accessing specific needs in disaster situations occurs because often, the needs of women and children are based on incorrect assumptions rather than consultation and inclusive planning. Therefore, the involvement of women in disaster management planning must really be done so that women can voice their own needs.
According to Eko Novi Ariyanti, gender mainstreaming in disaster management has become a widely acknowledged international standard and priority as mentioned in, among others, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2016-2030), as well as in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In Indonesia, there is also a legal basis for gender mainstreaming in various sectors related to disaster management, for example in Law Number 24 of 2007 concerning Disaster Management, and in the Regulation of the Head of BNPB (Perka BNPB) Number 13 of 2014 concerning gender mainstreaming in the field of disaster management. This Perka BNPB explicitly states that gender-responsive disaster management needs to be implemented to ensure the fulfillment of the rights and needs of men and women in a fair and humane manner.
According to her, the Ministry of PPPA as the Ministry in charge of women empowerment and child protection has the obligation to integrate gender issues through gender mainstreaming to all stakeholders- both government and non-government. The implementation of gender mainstreaming is very important so that various issues, such as those mentioned by Melissa Fernandez and Ayu Saraswati, can be anticipated. “BNPB is the leading sector in disaster-related efforts,” she said.