Department for International Development: ‘What works in addressing violence against women and girls? Lessons learned from Typhoon Haiyan – Workshop Report’

Patriarchal typhoons are disproportionately impacting on the lives of women and girls, it would seem. Maybe after their homes are destroyed, the first thing on men’s minds is how they can harm women and girls, and maybe rape them. Odd, because reports of the aftermath of natural disasters invariably show men supporting women and children, often at the cost of their own lives. I’m reminded of the article, ‘Women affected most by global warming’.

Our thanks to N for pointing us to this DfID report. The start of the document’s Summary:

This document summarises the recommendations and discussions from a workshop hosted by the Department for International Development (DFID) on 9 June 2014.

The purpose of the workshop was to build consensus on what did and didn’t work to help prevent and respond to violence against women and girls in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan hit in November 2013.

N’s comments take up the remainder of this blog piece:

“This is interesting. Apparently the Philippine Typhoon was the first time there has been an organised attempt to implement a VAWG [Violence against Women and Girls] approach to disaster relief. The report highlights that trying to get the VAWG elements in the disaster relief plan delayed its implementation. As the relief agencies were pressed into rectifying “The MIRA [Multi-Sector Initial Rapid Assessment] did not disaggregate data by sex and age, making it impossible to differentiate the protection needs of women & girls and from those of men and boys.”

Unsurprisingly there was then a “backlash” against the “protection personnel” from those organising and giving aid because:

The presentation highlighted that in natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan, the term ‘survivor’ referred to the entire community, rather than (as in other crises, especially conflicts) specifically those that had survived violence, sexual or otherwise.

There was a certain attitude among non-protection personnel that the GBV [Gender Based Violence] concerns were formulaic and baseless, because there wasn’t hard data behind them.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) guidelines on GBV note that programming must start without waiting for evidence that violence is taking place – this is due to the sensitive nature of reporting GBV incidents. But non-protection personnel were not convinced of the need to act without evidence.

It is actually quite a gem of a report because it shows:

a. That the VAWG protection personnel actually delayed things.
b. The Filipinos in particular were insulted by the suggestion that they were a society dangerous to women and girls particularly without any evidence for the accusation.
c. That the aiding agencies respond to survivors of disaster as people first rather than immediately decide there should be a differential response based on gender.
d. Unsurprisingly the Protection Personnel advise that they and their programme are needed even without evidence!

Overall pretty much a microcosm of the whole VAWG thing.”

2 thoughts on “Department for International Development: ‘What works in addressing violence against women and girls? Lessons learned from Typhoon Haiyan – Workshop Report’

  1. I have to say that I am with the feminists on this one generally. It is incredibly violent, dominating and demeaning to use nasty, phallic machinery such as ships, aeroplanes and lorries to force traumatised ladies to accept food and shelter and medical treatment. I propose instead an international task force of peace-poets (to document the post-disaster experience, preferably in accessible haiku), aromatherapists (disasters can get a bit man-whiffy after a few days without functioning drains) and maybe a volunteer collective of performing artists (just to cheer things up a bit with folk-chanting, yodelling and face-painting until the shops open again). Once all of the male survivors have been shot (ladies could put their fingers in their ears while this is done) the rebuilding could then commence with air-kissing and (non-contact) hugs and a lot of waiting around for someone to do something. The workshop conclusions are correct, it’s long-past time for a fresh approach.

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