Women and Girls: a visible force for resilience


The International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) takes place every year on October 13. Since 2011, the Day has been part of a 4-year concept to build up momentum to 2015, an important date for the United Nations – it’s not only the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals ends, but also when the 10-year international framework for disaster risk reduction comes to an end. Conceptualized during my work with UNISDR, the 4-year Step Up initiative aims to promote disaster risk reduction and build up partnerships along the way to create a movement for the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction.

Each year of the Step Up initiative focuses on a theme and group as described in the UNISDR website:

The Step Up initiative started in 2011 and will be focusing on a different group of partners every year leading up to the World Conference for Disaster Reduction in 2015 – Children and Young People (2011), Women and Girls (2012), people with disabilities (2013), and the ageing population (2014).

Watch the Romanian video below

In 2012, my role was to establish an online promotional campaign, that included using social media, to raise awareness about the day and highlight the role of Women and Girls as a force for disaster resilience. I also designed the t-shirts (photo above) for UNISDR for the day which were a big hit, especially the QR code on the backside.

In partnership with a whole range of partners and tapping into other campaigns such as “Because I am a Girl“, I led the project in developing an interactive website to celebrate IDDR, which included getting people to comment on and “map” the role of women in disaster risk reduction. We also developed a strategy to promote and engage in conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and setup a Flickr group for people to share photos. The partnerships, collaboration, and promotion led to the 2012 International Day becoming a global event with activities taking place from Afghanistan to Zambia. Over 80 countries celebrated the day with the theme “Women and Girls: the [in]Visible Force of Resilience”.

IDDR 2012 in Uganda

Before the day, I had an understanding that social media would be a powerful force for advocacy and promotion, much more than your traditional media broadcast. But, the results were beyond our expectations! We did a quick count and over 5000 tweets using #iddr were seen over 27 million times! Here’s a sample of what people were saying before, during and after the 2012 IDDR.

… and check out these videos below. The first one by a small island in the Caribbean who put a music video together, splicing video messages from different people, and second one of artists doing a graffiti mural interpreting the theme in Romania. This is inspirational and shows that there is not only interest in risk reduction, typically a difficult concept to understand, but also that there are people and groups who have the creativity to make this important subject, dare I say, cool!

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