On February 18, 2018, The Daily Star and CARE Bangladesh jointly organized a roundtable titled “Rethink Resilience: Women-Driving Force in Building Urban Resilience” . Here are some quotes from a report on the event published in The Daily Star.
“Bangladesh is a pioneer in addressing the issue of women’s vulnerability in disaster situations. Extensive documentation has been done to assess different kinds of vulnerability women face during a disaster. Several policies and strategies have been developed to address these risks. But these interventions are largely limited to rural areas,” said Dr. Sharmind Neelormi, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Jahangirnagar University, who moderated the discussion.
“Bangladesh is going through rapid urbanization and a large number of the population lives in urban areas. But we do not have enough documentation about the challenges urban poor are facing in their everyday life. CARE Bangladesh has made an important intervention through their Building Resilience of the Urban Poor (BRUP) Project in this regard,” she explained.
“We often present women as helpless beings by bracketing them with children. By doing this, we ignore their potentials. In urban areas, social cohesion is weak. Women can play a key role in strengthening social bonds. Our experience on field, shows that in many cases women play more effective roles than men. Unfortunately, women’s leadership is yet to be recognized in disaster management,” said Palash Mondal, Coordinator-Climate Change and Resilience -Building Resilience of the Urban Poor Project at CARE Bangladesh.
“They are treated as passive receivers. We never consider them as an active actor. CARE Bangladesh wants to see women as a key force at par with men. We need to change our mindset. We need to recognize women as the driving force in building disaster resilience and it should be reflected in all of our policies and implementation strategies,” he continued.
“When CARE Bangladesh and Bangladesh Fire Services wanted to train up some volunteers from our neighbourhood, I joined the team. Being a woman, I was so excited about working for Bangladesh Fire Service. Just a few days after I took the training, a fire broke out in Tempaco, which is located in our area. I saw the news on TV and saw this as an opportunity to work at the field level and apply what I learned. So, along with other women volunteers of my area, I participated in the rescue operation,” said Nurjahan Akhter Sheuli an Urban Community Volunteer for FSCD in Tongi.
“Although I have learned many things from the training, there were many new things for me to learn from that rescue operation. We have proved that women can do this type of hard work. We have proved it many times—in the case of the Tempaco fire, Tetultola fire, etc. In the beginning, people of our locality, especially men, didn’t take this positively, but at one point they realised the importance of our work,” she added.