Tapping into the unlocked potential of women in emergencies

International Women's Day conference

  • 07 Mar 2014
  • 12:00 - 19:00
  • Westvest 7, 2611 AX, Delft, The Netherlands
Western Europe
Delft, The Netherlands

The theme for International Women's Day 2014 is Equality for Women is Progress for All. Within the scope of this theme, UNESCO-IHE is organizing a conference on 'Tapping into the unlocked potential of women in emergencies'.

Tapping into the unlocked potential of women in emergencies

Most disasters place an undue burden on women and girls, who account for over half of the 200 million people affected annually by natural disasters. The female population is often responsible for unpaid work such as providing care, water and food for households. If women and girls are left out of planning for disaster response or risk reduction measures, the special talents, skills and knowledge of half the population are not capitalized upon and the needs of the most affected are unlikely to be met.

On a more positive note, the same destructive forces of disasters also create opportunities for women as agents of change. Disasters can provide an opportunity to redress gender disparities. For example, during the recovery period following a disaster, longstanding biases against women can be challenged by programmes that are sensitive to their needs and that involve them as equal partners in recovery work.

The conference will be a valuable and unique opportunity for the community of disaster risk reduction and emergency professionals to meet, exchange ideas and debate key issues underlying the science and practice of the feminization of emergencies.

If you are sharing updates or want to keep updated on this event on Twitter, the hashtag is #IWDC


Watch live here


12.00 - 13.00 hrs

  • Registration 

13.00 - 13.25 hrs

  • Welcome
  • Greet Vink, Business Director & Andras Szollosi-Nagy, Rector

13.25 - 13.45 hrs

  • Opening by Moderators: Maria Luisa Salingay, MSc student in Water Quality Management, George Tom Ogol, MSc student in Hydrology and Water Resources

13.45 – 14.15 hrs

  • Keynote: Women in Displacement: An Opportunity for Empowerment?
  • Diane Goodman, Deputy Director, UNHCR Bureau for Europe

14.15 - 14.45 hrs

  • Keynote (working title): Women's leadership in Disaster Response from Cordaid's point of view
  • Ms. Simone Filippini, Director Cordaid

14.45 – 15.15 hrs

  • Keynote: UNISDR Making disaster risk reduction gender-sensitive: the next 25 years
  • Ms. Elizabeth Longworth,  Director UNISDR

15.15 - 16.00 hrs

  • Coffee break 

16.00 - 16.30 hrs

  • Keynote: The Practice: Gender Aware Disaster Risk Management
  • Dr. Valerie Nkamgang Bemo, MD-MPH, Senior Program Officer, Emergency Response at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

16.30 - 17.00 hrs

  • Keynote: Sanitation in emergencies for all: the UNESCO-IHE example
  • Fiona Zakaria, PhD fellow & Damir Brdanovic, Professor of Sanitary Engineering

17.00 hrs +

  • Reception & networking

For whom?

The conference caters to professionals from the Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency sectors, especially from developing countries but also dealing with related issues and working at NGOs, the United Nations, European Union, the private sector, governments and academia. 

Speakers from across the disaster risk reduction and emergency sector will address a range of issues related to how empowerment of women in disaster risk reduction can help save lives in the short and long term and who will present their vision on how this could be achieved.

The conference will be webcast, and a recording be made available online. The links will be made public as soon as they come available. 

Twitter: #womensday @UnescoIHE

Quick Facts 

Disasters lower women’s life expectancy more than men’s, according to data from 141 countries affected by disaster between 1981 and 2002. Women, boys and girls are 14 times more likely than men to die during a disaster. 

Most of the victims trapped in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina were African-American women and their children, the poorest demographic group in that part of the country.   

Following a disaster, it is more likely that women will be victims of domestic and sexual violence; many even avoid using shelters or sanitation facilities for fear of being sexually assaulted.

The United Nations and International Women's Day

In 1975, during the UN International Year for Women, the United Nations held its first official celebration of Women’s Day.

Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed by Member States.

In adopting this resolution, the General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and an increase of support for women’s full and equal participation. Read more.


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