Actors working in the humanitarian space in the Solomon Islands gathered in Honiara last week to consider how they can better engage with different populations to meet their needs in disaster planning and response.

Participants from government departments, civil society and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade attended the national Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action orientation workshop being carried out by UN Women in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Youths, Children and Family Affairs, NDMO, World Vision and Oxfam.

“This national orientation workshop is starting a conversation about how we can best plan for and respond to disasters so that we save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect safety and dignity,” said UN Multi Country Representative Aleta Miller.

“We are conversing about what gender and protection in disaster planning means so we can meet the needs of women, girls, boys and men whose resources, capacities and coping strategies are often different.”

The training also focuses on the practical needs of women and girls are in times of crisis, and how these along with the conditions which prevent women and girls from accessing their rights, resources, and decision making processes can be addressed.

During her opening remarks Permanent Sectary for the Ministry of Women, Youths, Children and Family Affairs, Ethel Sigimanu talked about the importance of gender and protection in humanitarian action for the Solomon Islands.

“Personally, I am very pleased that we can finally talk gender and protection. These are two words, which we need to do much more on to ensure that they are effectively linked through disaster preparedness and emergency humanitarian response,” she said.

“It is important that we work together to see how best we can ensure that gender and protection as a pillar in all humanitarian planning and response is addressed as best as possible . If we get this right we can vastly improve the lives of many people in Solomon Islands, giving them ownership of the humanitarian response during emergency.”

Participants discussed gender and protection topics during the three day training and how their organisations can incorporate this into their disaster planning and response.

“We humanitarian actors must see protection as central to our work, before, during and after disaster,” said John Sumana from Oxfam.

This national orientation workshop is the second of five which are being carried out in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu and follow on from a region wide training which was held in Suva in August.

UN Women will continue its partnership with the Ministry of Women, Youths, Children and Family Affairs, NDMO, Oxfam and World Vision to have further targeted training in the Solomon Islands.

Press Release: UN Women