UNCSW: Healing Our Women

Written by Ashley Ng

"Health, Education, Aid, Liberty, Safety: HEALTH" - Israel

A natural disaster is indiscriminate, right? The delegates of UNCSW would disagree. The damage inflicted by the extreme weather cannot see its victim, but the social and cultural norms of the disaster-stricken countries can. Gender norms often provide males with relief aid, resources, and government recognition that allows them to recover much more quickly than women can.

To address the high mortality rates of women both during and after natural disasters, the delegates discussed equal access to relief aid and provision of health services and resources that women specifically need. NGOs, such as Doctors Without Borders and Red Cross, and national governments were encouraged to coordinate their provision of humanitarian aid with the hopes that NGOs can ensure aid is distributed equally without gender bias. Aid, that provides for the basic needs of both male and female would include services, such as natal care, and resources, such as contraception and sanitary products.

To address the largely patriarchal mindset of many disaster-prone nations, delegates advocated for the creation of education programs by the national government that would focus on gender equality and also the formation of disaster training programs specifically for female citizens. Because of deeply rooted gender norms that restrict a woman’s mobility, many female citizens cannot evacuate during a disaster because their male heads of the household aren’t with them. These gender norms also prevent women from holding their status and power in society if their male counterparts die in a natural disaster.

To ensure the protection of women’s rights in the aftermath of disaster, delegates debated between calling upon international organizations, like Interpol or a regional commission focused on disaster relief, or depending upon national governments to better enforce their laws criminalizing sexual violence.

Long-term solutions focusing on the empowerment of women were also proposed. Through reserving spots in government, various industries, and disaster relief committees for women, the delegates sought to increase the ability of women to affect change on their own lives.
Successfully passing 3 of their 4 resolution papers, this generation of future leaders seems quite optimistic in their ability to redefine gender norms on a global scale.