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“Focus on making the spaces to be places where the sense of place (identity, attachment, and dependence) can be acquired through time” was the key message of Dr. Gloria Luz Nelson, a Sociology Professor, and an NRCP Member, during the Gender and Development (GAD) webinar which presented policy recommendations on protecting women and youth in emergencies and disasters.  Said recommendations are intended to avoid return migration to former places which are commonly declared danger zones. 

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Dr. Gloria Luz Nelson presented the policy recommendations on protecting the women and youth in times of disaster during the NRCP GAD webinar on Safe Places, 9 December 2021.

Dr. Nelson conveyed that, at the micro-level, when the basic needs of an individual are satisfied during the initial response to emergencies, the needs for security and safety become salient. The need of people for order, predictability, and control in their lives should be addressed in the family, schools, community, and hospital. The needs of vulnerable members of society, including girls, boys, and teen mothers, should also be addressed according to their security needs.

At the macro level, Dr. Nelson highlighted that the government should consult with young people about their needs, include them in the processes, and consider both the short-term and long-term impacts of relocating to disaster shelters. She also recommended integrating pre-disaster management and post-disaster measures in the functions of disaster coordinating units from the barangays to the national level.

These recommendations towards promoting safe places during disasters and emergencies in the Philippines and lessen the negative impact on women, children, and the elderly. Dr. Nelson tackled the different challenges that most women, specifically young women and children, encounter during and after disasters such as physical threats which involve injury, being neglected, abuse and/or death, psychological discomfort or anxiety due to displacement from home, witnessing tragedy, separation from family, and the feeling of losing.

Dr. Nelson further emphasized that, in consideration of a person’s strong emotional connection in a particular place where she is used to, a safe place for women is important in times of disasters and emergencies. Though emergency shelters are provided for those heavily affected by disasters, challenges arise such as food and clean water scarcity, crowded and chaotic place, lack of privacy, sanitation problem, and any possible situation that causes inconvenience to disaster survivors.

These gender issues in times of disaster and emergencies were the focus of the GAD webinar held on 9 December 2021 as part of the campaign on ending violence against women (VAWC) with the slogan, “Safe Spaces: Kasali Tayo”. Dr. Nelson was welcomed by NRCP Executive Director and GAD Focal Point System Chair Dr. Marieta Bañez-Sumagaysay and introduced by NRCP Finance and Administrative Division Chief Dr. Geraldo Petilla. 

At the end of the presentation, the NRCP Research and Information Dissemination Division Chief Ms. Maria Elena Talingdan facilitated the open forum. One of the topics raised is the difference in the situation of women and girls before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Nelson explained that there is a big difference in the situation. She stated that people are displaced from their homes in times of disasters while during the pandemic, they are required to stay at home due to the strict implementation of lockdown. She added that due to this lockdown, the case of teenage pregnancy has increased, which has been subjected to another study.3

Another issue brought up by a participant, is the resettling problem being encountered because relocated disaster survivors tend to return to their original community, leaving the resettlement facility provided for them. Dr. Nelson agreed that it has been a common scenario either because people still seek their routine habits and are affected by the limited livelihood in the new resettlement area, or they cannot afford to learn new skills. Thereby, she suggested that in planning for a resettlement area, “it should be a safe place and a ‘place’ where they can earn a living and continue with provisions of livelihood”.

The webinar ended with a closing message from the DOST Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Management, Management Services, and Special Concerns, and DOST-wide Focal Person Dr. Diana Ignacio.

The webinar was attended by 99 participants composed of 33 males and 66 females, among them are 57 Members of the NRCP and 42 non-members.  The NRCP Members came from the 10 Scientific Divisions: nine participants from Governmental, Educational, and International Policies; three from Medical Sciences; two from Pharmaceutical Sciences; ten from Biological Sciences; four from Agriculture and Forestry; seven from Engineering and Industrial Research; 18 from Social Sciences; two from Chemical Sciences; one from Humanities; and one from Earth and Space Sciences. (Exen Bantiyan Claro, DOST-NRCP)

 

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