Women to be Highlighted on International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction

National Disaster Coordinator, Carl Herbert has announced that the date of this year’s observance will be on 12th October.

The United Nations designation, which intends to reduce socio-economic vulnerabilities to disaster by promoting a global culture of natural disaster risk reduction, was changed from the second Wednesday, to the 13th day of October each year, in 2011.

Mr. Herbert said that this year, activities are being planned for Friday, October 12th, since the 13th falls on a Saturday.

Deputy Disaster Coordinator, Perry Peets has been charged with the coordination of this year’s celebrations, assisted by Mrs. Telca Wallace, who is NEMA’s Districts Coordinator.

“We are happy this year that the UN has seen fit to acknowledge contributions made by women,” Mrs. Wallace said, “as unsung heroines continue to lead the way in disaster management in their communities. So we welcome the opportunity to honour their strides.”

Mrs. Wallace was referring to the event’s theme for this year: “Women and Girls – the invisible Force of Resilience”.

According to Mrs. Wallace, the theme does not imply that women and girls are invisible rather that their charity is often overlooked or undervalued for one reason or another.

“It is about drawing attention to the fact that our efforts to protect and rebuild our communities before and after disasters often are unrecognized.” This she blamed on our socio-cultural construct.

This year’s activities intend to, highlight stories of action and initiative by women and girls, while attempting to move beyond the tendency to portray them as victims.

Wallace said, “Although it is true that women and girls feature disproportionately among the casualties of disasters, we are active victims as we actively participate in our own recovery as well as the rehabilitation of our communities.”

Celebrations for International Natural Disaster Reduction Day include a march that culminates with a rally in support of women and girls, at Independence Square on 12th October.

“We plan to honour nominees who have been selected by their communities,” Mrs. Wallace said, “and we invite everyone to come and support what we hope will be a source of inspiration for persons who are interested in being of service to humanity.”

This year, the Ministry of Health will again be collaborating with NEMA, as they will be hosting activities in celebration of Mental Health Day, which takes place on October 10th. Nurse Amory, a member of the committee has noted that their theme, “Depression: A Global Crisis”, fits in nicely with NEMA’s efforts to bring awareness to the contributions and hindrances of women and girls, especially as many females suffer from depression in silence.

Last week, Nurses Cotton and Amory met with Mr. Peets and his committee at NEMA HQ, to fine tune the alliance.

“Although we are still in the planning process,” Mr. Peets has said, “We are already discussing some tangible ways of combining our efforts, including, but not limited to honouring a woman nominated by Health, at the Rally.”

Mr. Peets said that it is the hope of the committee that this action along with other steps, will help to reduce the stigma that is attached to mental health, which in itself can be considered disaster management.

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