The Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Voluntary Stakeholder Group on Disaster Risk Reduction, Arab States, which participated in the Africa-Arab Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Tunis, Tunisia October 9- to 13, 2018, affirmed its commitment to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015, with particular focus to section 36 a (i) of the Sendai Framework 2015, which calls for the participation of women as critical to managing risk and designing and implementing disaster risk reduction and related policies, plans and programs and for strengthening women’s capacities for preparedness and alternate livelihoods post-disaster. Guided by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 1979, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change 2015, the SDGs 2015 and the UN Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration 2018, the plan of action of the Arab States Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Voluntary Stakeholder Group also seeks to address gender responsive climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, and migration to achieve inclusive sustainable development goals.

The Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Voluntary Stakeholder Group and its Plan of Action developed prior to the Tunisia meeting and finalized in Tunisia in support of governments to implement SENDAI were endorsed by the Arab governments at the fore-mentioned platform.

There are gender-based differences in the ways men, women, boys, girls prepare for and reduce risks; are impacted by, cope with, mitigate and adapt to disasters, climate change, environmental degradation, social and economic losses. These gender-based differences, in impacts and contribution to survival, are anchored in pre-existing gendered roles and attributes, sex and gender-based discrimination and inequality, and other interacting forms of marginalization such as economic status, age, disability, race and ethnicity, immigration status, nationality, geographical location, child headed households resulting from conflicts, deaths due to HIV/AIDS, other epidemics who are mostly headed by girls, and etc., with disproportionate impacts on women and girls. They are manifested in varied ways across contexts, but there are commonalities, demonstrated for example, by greater female deaths on average in disasters, including older women, women and girls with disability, who may be left to perish because of social stigma, and a perception of them as liabilities; greater economic impacts on women than men; increased workloads, fatigue, loss in time and income-generating opportunities due to long hours of travel to forage for food, fuel and water; sexual and domestic abuse and violence; greater difficulties for women, especially pregnant women, older women, women and girls with disabilities to move to shelters; greater marginalization from access to material and non-material resources for relief, recovery and reconstruction; and lack of representation on decision-making mechanisms. This directly affects women’s resilience and ability to cope with disasters, climate change, and environmental degradation.