New approaches to disaster management are embracing the notion that women are valuable decision-makers, organisers and risk reducers who should be better integrated into key planning and recovery roles. More than 100 representatives from field NGOs, gender and development professionals, academics, grassroots leaders from over 12 states attended the Gender and Social Issues session at the First India Disaster Management Congress (IDMC) in November 2006. The presentations and recommendations from this session are available on the Disaster Watch website. This session highlighted the important role of grassroots women’s groups in response and rehabilitation, lending efficacy and reducing corruption to such efforts (especially after the tsunami and the floods in Western India). Additionally, the session report claims that women have been the best advocates for livelihoods restoration and asset building initiatives; and that wherever women’s self help groups were supported in large numbers by the government, the status of women was elevated. The presentations given at this session emphasised the necessity to have a clear gender dimension in disaster response to ensure that the practical needs of women and girls are met, and that women are strategically involved. The recommendations generated by this session are divided into the following categories: Disaster Preparedness & Prevention; Policy & Governance; Communication; and Livelihoods, Microfinance & Insurance. Policy and governance recommendations include the need to produce gender-disaggregated data for multi-level policy planning and preparedness, provide adequate budgets for vulnerability reduction measures benefitting women, establish the gender-equitable joint ownership of assets as a precondition for rehabilitation, and grant formal responsibility to women’s groups for handling relief efforts (volunteer and shelter management, food and supply procurement, cash assistance, etc).The ‘Gender & Social Issues session report’ can be accessed here:

The following is the list of this session’s presentations and presenters: Reduction of Vulnerability of Indian Women - A Key Mitigation ProcessMaitrayee ChakrabartyGender Issues in Disaster Management Milind Bokil & Neelam GorheDevelopment and Disaster: a gender perspectiveNisheeth KumarEn"gendered" Vulnerability: feminine perspective in the face of disaster Rani SahayCommunity Involvement in Flood Relief and Rehabilitation Sonia GarchaDisaster that Highlight Hidden Disaster J. P. Saulina ArnoldSustainable Response & Recovery: strategic shifts and actionPrema GopalanRebuilding Opportunities and Promoting Equality Bharti PatelDisaster Relief Services in India Ajinder WaliaCoastal Zone Management in the Hands of Local CommunitiesJacob D. Jacob D. Raj

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Disaster risk reduction