Opening Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Kazuyoshi Umemoto
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
Panel Discussion on
Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment during Natural Disasters
21 February 2014
Distinguished Guests and Panelists,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to today’s panel discussion entitled “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment during Natural Disasters”. I am very pleased to host this event in cooperation with the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC).
Last September, at the General Assembly, Japanese Prime Minister Abe stated that he “[wished] to bring about a society where women shine.” He emphasized three policy priorities; 1) promoting women’s participation in society and the empowerment of women, 2) improving maternal, newborn and child health, and 3) enhancing women’s participation and protection in the areas of peace and security. He also specifically mentioned Japan’s intention to once again submit a draft resolution that gives careful consideration to women in natural disasters at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) next month.
In view of increasing number of large scale natural disasters in recent years, such as typhoon Yolanda and the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan regards Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as an important agenda, and will be hosting the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March 2015 in the city of Sendai, part of the region devastated by the Earthquake and tsunami.
We recognize that women and girls disproportionately suffer the negative effects of natural disasters. The poor economic and social status that many women face prior to natural disasters often hinders their chances to develop survival skills as well as their ability to receive due warning and get out of harm's way. For those women and girls who do survive, the aftermath of a disaster—displacement, gender based violence, disruptions in health services and the loss of financial security—can lead to devastating, long-term consequences. Emergency preparedness efforts have the potential to improve resiliency, response and recovery efforts, and thereby not only protect women and girls when disaster strikes, but empower them as well.
We expect that today’s panel discussion and question & answer session will be useful in offering good practices, identifying both challenges and the way forward, and informing discussions on those issues that are central to both the SG’s recent Report and the upcoming CSW Resolution.
We look forward to your active and candid participation in the discussion.