The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) and the World Food Programme on March 9 held a workshop on “gender mainstreaming guidelines for inclusive disaster management”. The conference was held in Siem Reap province and attended by 45 officials, 10 of them women, from the 13 provincial disaster management secretariats.

NCDM spokesman Seak Vichet said the officials were from the secretariats of Pailin, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri.

The workshop aimed to instruct the officials of the importance of gender mainstreaming and make it possible for them to study methods whereby they could integrate it into effective disaster management, he said.

Women are among the most vulnerable members of society, so the NCDM has tried to introduce gender mainstreaming to communities so that they will be aware of the challenges faced by women, especially in a disaster. Gender mainstreaming – as it relates to disaster management – means that women should be aware of how to protect themselves should a disaster occur, he added.

“We try to find ways to support them in protecting themselves and their families, as well as valuable livestock. They should be prepared and should have a plan in place as to what course of action they should take in certain circumstances,” he said.

Chan Lina, president of the Association to Support Vulnerable Women, said she had given her full support to the NCDM for holding the workshop. She considered gender mainstreaming an important tool in preparing women to solve problems and support one another.

“When a problem arises, or there is a disaster, we have to know how to help our families. We should know who cannot swim, for example. If there was major flooding, we would know who we should rescue first,” she said.

The disasters, she added, include not only flooding but also droughts and fires. Another tip she provided was the importance of taking care of important documents like family books and ID cards. Replacing these items is a complex, time-consuming task so they should be a priority should they need to flee their home.