Internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in evacuation centers in Northern Mindanao are provided with child and women-friendly spaces to cater to their special needs.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), local and international humanitarian organizations are now managing these special places for children and women.
Evacuation centers in Iligan City with separate child and women-friendly spaces include National School of Fisheries in Buruun; Sta. Elena Gymnasium, Sta. Elena; and Tibanga Gymnasium, Tibanga.
“When natural calamities and humanitarian emergencies strike, women are more vulnerable than their male counterparts. They face greater risks as they try to keep their families together. It has also been documented by various humanitarian agencies that women tend to be less aware of how to protect themselves, and this is because they are often left out of the planning process when it comes to emergency preparedness. Busy addressing the immediate needs of their families, they tend to have less knowledge about disaster occurrences and how to prepare for them,” explained DSWD Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo.
“Because of this, there is a need to involve more women in disaster preparedness efforts and to put together information and education campaigns wherein women and their safety are given focus and priority,” she added.
Sec. Taguiwalo said that among the DSWD’s efforts is to popularize the concept of Women and Children- Friendly Spaces (WSF). A WSF is a formal or informal place where women and girls can feel physically and emotionally safe. The term “safe” is used to refer to a space when there is the absence of violence, trauma, threat to safety, and fear.
“During disasters, there have been evidence that suggest that the existence of WFS help to reduce risks and prevent further harm to women during emergencies such as natural calamities. A WSF can provide women and girls with a safe entry point wherein they can access services and information,” Sec. Taguiwalo stated.
Sec. Taguiwalo also said women, children, and communities should not be left out of the loop when disaster preparations are being undertaken.
“In fact, the input and opinions of women and children should be considered regarding disaster preparedness actions. They should also be fully informed regarding the security risks in the community, and the types of government and community-based support systems that are already established for women and girls in preparation for calamities. Our goal is to protect women during disasters because they protect not only themselves but their children and the rest of their families as well. The more women are empowered to help themselves during calamities, the more effective disaster preparedness efforts are,” she said.
Activities relative to psycho-social processing through drawing and playing for children are conducted inside the child-friendly spaces provided for inside and outside the evacuation camps in Iligan City and in the towns of Baloi and Pantao Ragat in Lanao del Norte.
Women-friendly spaces are utilized by breastfeeding mothers. The women-friendly space is a designated tent inside and outside the evacuation camp that provides internally-displaced women with a safe place to meet, talk, and help each other.
Aside from that, most of the evacuation camps in Iligan City have tents as prayer room, both for male and female. Evacuation centers located near the church and masjid were not provided with prayer room because the IDPs will just walk and visit the church and masjid during worship time, respectively. #