Active participation of Women and People with Disability ensure inclusive DRR Plan

Women and people with a disability often have limited scope to participate in public meetings, undertake leadership positions, or be involve in key public decisions. These barriers and social norms also apply in disaster preparedness and responses planning process, yet women, people with a disability and children are the most vulnerable people in times of disaster. To break down these barriers and enable greater diversity in decision making, CARE International in Timor-Leste is promoting inclusive planning process and approaches in disaster preparedness and response in communities and national government level through the Disaster READY Project funded by the Australian Government. 

The project is aimed at strengthening the Municipal Disaster Management Committee (MDMC), as well as supporting Suco Councils or Suco Disaster Management Committees (SDMC) in eleven Sucos across five Sub-Districts in Viqueque Municipality. By coordinating inclusive DRR plans and outlining joint actions during preparedness and response communities can seek support from government duty bearers and other key stakeholders to minimize risk/losses, leaving nobody behind. This project ensures that everybody has a role to play in their own preparedness, making the household, community and government accountable.

In September 2018, CARE conducted a two day training on gender, disability inclusion and child protection in DRR to suco councils in Afaloicai Suco (village) which was organized by Suco Councils and supported by Municipal and Sub-district authority. The training aimed to improve understanding of the importance of active participation of women and people with a disability in preparedness and response planning, including undertaking roles in disaster management committees. 

Julmira Lopes, 37 years old, Delegada (Community representative-women) of Aldeia (sub-village) Lari was one of the participants of the training, “Before this training my understanding on gender was all about sex but now I realized that equal participation of men and women is possible to make realistic preparedness and responds plans which will reduce risk/losses when disasters occur. So, I am now very committed to disseminate and promote gender equality and equity in the development process at my areas, specifically will ensure women, people with disabilities and children’s rights and needs are being met in disaster preparedness and responses at all levels”. In the photo Julmira was busy to take notes of the key learning of the training session, which she commented that she would review all the key learning points, and make a plan how to implement those.  

Agustinho Soares Pinto, 42 years old, Chief of Aldeia- Ossocaiua commented “This is the first time I have participated in a training where we talked about people with disability and also their role in decision making platform which is very important. Normally, we always ignore their rights and not valued their participation in any decision making process. This training open my eyes and now I realize the importance of their active participation in decision-making forum. I am now committed and willing to support representation of women and people with disabilities in disaster management committee in my areas and also in planning process ensuring their rights are addressed.  In addition, I am also committed that I will facilitate a similar training/key learning with my community groups including primary school teachers so that all teachers are aware on how to protect student from all types of hazards while or during their learning time at school”.

Agustinho Soares Pinto also participated in one exercise “Importance of disability inclusion in DRR” session (see photo at right side) where other participants were analyzing the key barriers that exist for people with a disability in the community. Each barrier represented a knot along a rope, which was slowly wrapped around his body. The participants then had to discuss solutions the community could do to overcome the barriers and the knots were slowly released from his body. After the exercise, he commented, “I am very happy to be part of this exercise where I learned a number of challenges associated with people with disabilities in my areas those I didn’t noticed earlier, so I should give more attention in near future to overcome those problems”.

July 2021