By Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Director General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Muhammed Sani-Sidi has stated that, demographically, out of the over 2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country, 53% were female while 54% were children under the age of five years.
The DG, stated that it was important to note that Nigerian women and girls had paid a heavy price in armed conflict situations and in other emergencies.
He made this disclosure while delivering his speech in an event organised by the agency on mainstreaming gender issues in disaster management, held recently in Abuja.
According to him, “This epoch making event, first of its kind to be organised by NEMA in a drive to come up with a policy guide for mainstreaming gender in Disaster Management in Nigeria is aimed towards understanding gender issues both at policy and operational levels.
“The theme; Gender, Women and Disaster Risk Management; Towards a Gender Sensitive Policy Framework in Nigeria is of critical importance not only to NEMA but to all our stakeholders in Disaster Risk Management.
“In the last five years alone, our nation had experienced disasters which have cost the lives of thousands of our people, while several others have been displaced. These disasters have devastated the livelihoods of people, impacted on the economies of states and eroded social relationships amongst families.”
He said, “As people, we have grappled with a plethora of conflicts which have sapped enormous energy and resources meant for economic development and the improvement of living conditions in several communities. Our women, girls and children have endured unprecedented levels of sexual violence and assault along with related involuntary pregnancies and health complications as a result of abuses and insecurity in times of emergencies.”
Sidi hinted that, “Women make up more than half the population affected by emergencies in country demographically; out of the over 2 million Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria, 53% are female while 54% are children.
“While women’s vulnerability to disasters is often highlighted, their role and contributions to building disasters resilience has often been overlooked and has not been adequately recognised.”
Explaining further, he said that strong evidence from good practice of gender-sensitive Disaster Risk Management worldwide showed that both men and women benefit from a Gender balanced approach to Disasters Risk Management.
“Another reason why we need to mainstream gender in Disaster Management policies and programme is due to the current little understanding of gender issues both at policy and operational levels. Gender equality in disaster management doesn’t merely imply the addressing of women’s humanitarian issues; also includes addressing the concerns of men and women, the relationships between them and the root causes of these imbalances.
He however said that the agency (NEMA) will leverage on the expertise, shared experiences, success stories and practices gathered at the 2-day event in building a gender sensitive resilient communities in Nigeria.