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Natural disasters impact women than men, says minister

By Caleb Chikwawawa

Women affairs minister Monica Mutsvangwa says natural disasters impact women and girls in negative ways more than the male sex.

Officiating at a Gender Risk Management workshop in Harare on Thursday, Mutsvangwa said disasters increased existing gender inequalities which had already been skewed against women.

“It is now an open book for everyone to read about how the climate is changing and affecting all of us everywhere.

“About 40 percent of global population is now actually living with the harsh realities of climate change, high temperatures, drought, flooding and many other extreme weather events and Zimbabwe has not been spared.

“Decreased agricultural production, food insecurity, poor health, scarcity of water and energy resources, climate induced migration and conflict and climate related natural disasters are some the challenges that are being aggravated by climate change.

“Disasters weather natural or man-made have the potential to disrupt our lives, destroy infrastructure, and cause immense suffering.

“They often exacerbate existing inequalities and disproportionately affect women, girls, men, and boys in different ways.

“However, it’s sad to state that the worsening impacts of such disasters lead to highly gendered impacts which largely affect women and girls.

“Violence against women and girls is also a factor during the post-disaster.”

Mutsvangwa said evidence has shown that during Cyclone Idai, more Zimbabwean women lost livelihoods and lives.

She added, “During Covid-19, many women and girls faced GBV and teenage pregnancies.

“Climate induced disasters are now a reality and women and children carry the brunt of the impacts.

“Gender also intersects with other factors like disability, culture, religion, or socio-economic disadvantages, creating additional vulnerabilities and barriers to adaptation.

“These are likely to limit women in adopting affective strategies for preparing, adapting, and responding to disasters.”

Mutsvangwa encouraged all stakeholders to work in collaboration to address the gender issues.

“It takes collaborative efforts such as this one to bring lasting change.

“Because of that, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) states that gender should be integrated in all policies and actions.

“The Beijing Agenda for Global Action on Gender sensitive Disaster Risk Reduction (2009) calls for gender sensitive approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation and recovery strategies, and natural disaster assistance,” she said.

Speaking at the same event, Country Director of the Care International in Zimbabwe, Patrick Sikana also said if women had equal opportunities as man, the economy would be much better than it is.

“For every $1 put in the resilience of women, we save $5,” he said.

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