Minister Launches Female-Friendly Space in Seaqaqa

Vuniwaqa: Disproportionate impact of natural disasters on women and girls demands a targeted approach
23 Jan 2021 16:44
Minister Launches Female-Friendly Space in Seaqaqa
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa with representatives from UNFPA after the launching of women frindly space in Seaqaqa on January 22,2021. Photo: Laisa Lui

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Allevation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa yesterday launched a space in Seaqaqa reserved for women and girls post-Tropical Cyclone Yasa.

Ms Vuniwaqa said the effects of natural disasters on us and our ability to mitigate and adapt to them, were mediated by social/cultural factors, gender norms and differ­ences in vulnerability.

“The disproportionate impact of natural disasters on women and girls demands a targeted approach if we are to truly leave no one behind in our recovery efforts. The cre­ation of women-friendly spaces is one such targeted approach,” Ms Vuniwaqa said.

Differences in vulnerability

“It is important to highlight that the dif­ferences in vulnerability arises from mul­tidimensional and cultural inequalities and discriminations in our homes, our commu­nities and society. These differences shape differential risks from climate change.

“People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally, or otherwise marginalised are especially vul­nerable to climate change and also to some adaptation and mitigation responses. And those happen to be mostly women and girls.

She said: “Women are more prone to nutri­tional deficiencies because of their unique nutritional needs.

“Pregnant and lactating women also face additional challenges, as they have an in­creased need for food and water, and their mobility is limited.

“Respiratory and cardiovascular disease secondary to exposure to poor air quality preferentially impacts women as they of­ten also are disproportionately exposed to smoke and fumes from the use of tradition­al indoor stoves for cooking.

“Women and girls are at a higher risk of physical, sexual, and domestic violence in the aftermath of natural disasters and are at a higher risk for mood disorders. Psycho­logical stress is likely to be heightened after disasters, particularly where families are displaced and have to live in emergency or transitional housing.

“Overcrowding, lack of privacy and the collapse of regular routines and livelihood patterns can contribute to anger, frustra­tion and gender-based violence, with chil­dren and women most vulnerable. Increased time spent collecting water often also places women and girls at risk of sexual violence when travelling long distances.

“Women and girls in particular adolescent girls may face barriers to accessing health-care services due to poor control over eco­nomic and other assets to avail themselves of health care, and cultural restrictions on their mobility to seek health care.”

6 tents set up for women, girls

Meanwhile, there are six tents set up by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for women and girls to have a space where they can discuss their challenges freely and be assisted accordingly.

The six tents are set up near health facili­ties in Seaqaqa, Kia Island, and Nakorovatu Health Centre in Cakaudrove, Lekutu, Wai­nunu, and Kubulau, Bua.

Women who were at the launch showed appreciation at the idea of having such as space that would give women the confidence to freely express themselves of the fears and challenges that they go through post cyclone.

Lavenia Toga was visiting the hospital in Seaqaqa when she stepped into the space

Ms Toga said she was excited to meet Min­ister Vuniwaqa and would inform the wom­en at Vucitoka Settlement about the space and its purpose. Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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