Stakeholders dialogue on gender health emergencies, disaster risk

Stakeholders dialogue on gender health emergencies, disaster risk

A gender analysis and policy brief commissioned by the African Risk Capacity (ARC) has identified inadequate funding, absence of gender focal persons and insufficient sex-disaggregated data as some of the factors hampering disaster risk management (DRM) among women, children and the vulnerable in the country.


Others are inadequate coordination, especially at the community level, and the need for clearer policy direction for effective gender-inclusive emergency response action from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGSCP), the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

At a policy dialogue held in Accra and organised by the ARC with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on ‘Gender Health Emergencies and Disaster Risk Management’, Dr Eric Asiedu Twum, a Gender, Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management Specialist, among other things, also identified technical insufficiency of gender and social inclusion and expertise from staff in key institutions to address and monitor the implementation of gender issues in their organisations as part of the problem.

He, therefore, recommended mainstreaming gender considerations into DRM by developing clear guidelines and providing training for DRM structures to integrate gender analysis and decision-making, especially at the community level.

He also called for gender units to be established within relevant agencies, such as the GHS and district offices of NADMO and MoGSCP, to expand gender desks and ensure gender considerations are integrated into policies and disaster management strategies.

In a statement, the Director General of NADMO, Eric Nana Agyemang Prempeh, said a cornerstone of NADMO’s mission was mainstreaming gender considerations in all of its DRM activities.

This meant recognising the unique vulnerabilities faced by different genders, especially women and children, and championing gender-responsive disaster risk management.

“Empowering women to take on leadership roles in disaster preparedness and response ensures their voices are integral to decision-making processes,” he said.

Gender roles

The Chief Director of MoGCSP, Dr Afisah Zakariah, in a statement, said: “We needed to work together to provide rapid and appropriate gender-sensitive responses to disease outbreaks and epidemics in the African region,” adding that while developing these gender-sensitive approaches, “it is important that we take cognisance of gender roles and norms, as these can significantly influence how individuals, particularly women and other vulnerable groups, are affected by and respond to health emergencies”.

She said different people might have different vulnerabilities, capacities and coping strategies during emergencies and outbreaks and “we must be intentional with strategies to cushion the vulnerable from the negative impacts of health emergencies”.

“Therefore, a gender-sensitive approach ensures that the unique needs and experiences of all individuals are taken into account, leading to more effective and equitable health interventions,” she added.

Strengthening capacities

In a welcome address, Dr Christiana Adokiye, Head of Gender Division, ARC, said in November 2022, the ARC signed an investment grant entitled: “Gender-sensitive mechanisms for epidemic preparedness in ECOWAS”, with the main objective of strengthening the capacities of six priority countries, namely, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone, to better prepare and respond to epidemics while taking into account the gender dimension.

Through the project, she said the ARC commissioned Gender, Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management Specialists in each country to conduct an in-depth gender analysis of the health sector from the perspective of disease outbreaks and the interlinked disaster risk management and financing sector.

The gender analyses, she said, aimed to identify gaps and challenges and propose recommendations for policies, strategies and activities to ensure a gender-transformative disaster risk management sector.

During a panel discussion, panellists called for more collaboration and coordination among agencies, as well as more tailored intervention strategies on gender mainstreaming to ensure that gender became a stand-alone theme when developing programmes and policies to prevent it from being crowded out.

Writer’s email:[email protected]

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