Community-led action is essential to reducing disaster losses and building resilience. Organized groups of grassroots women have knowledge and practices that can reduce risk and secure resilient livelihoods, but are too often left out of decision making and cannot access the financial and technical resources required to pull themselves, their families and their communities from poverty that is aggravated and, in some cases, driven by, disasters.
Women experience exposure and vulnerability to disaster risk differently, owing in part to historic patterns of discrimination and gendered divisions of labor that charge women with caring for family members (young and old alike), insuring food and homestead security, performing ‘volunteer’ community work and other key responsibilities. These inter-connected challenges of poverty, pervasive disaster risk, and the marginalization of grassroots women in poor communities, require holistic response strategies that ensure resilient sustainable development investments and global commitments are driven from the bottom-up and based on locally framed priorities and solutions.
Community Resilience Funds (CRF), promoted by the Huairou Commission in over 20 countries over the past ten years, have provided a model for enabling grassroots women to demonstrate their ability to design and implement resilience-building activities. Grassroots leaders working with the CRF model have attracted global attention to the critical importance of bringing community-led, gender-responsive action to scale to ensure communities are truly prepared to face diverse and recurrent disaster threats.
Important successes have been achieved through the CRF. Governmental bodies have begun to formally certify grassroots organizations as disaster risk reduction partners and are creating official public roles for grassroots women’s organizations. The Huairou Commission is bringing outcomes like these to scale through new tools, trainings, peer exchanges and partnerships with research agencies and policy experts to realize our shared goal of securing dependable, devolved financing to community-led groups through national, regional and global channels.