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Presenting TAGS to Head of UNISDR, Geneva. Switzerland

20 March 2018

During a visit to the United Nations in Geneva, TAGS founder, Malini Mehra, had an opportunity to present the campaign to the new head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Mami Mizutori. Ms Mizutori was appointed Special Representative to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guttieres, on disaster risk reduction (DRR) in March 2018.

UNISDR is the UN’s lead organisation on DRR and responsible for promotion of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). It also produces the UN system’s primary bi-annual risk report, the Global Assessment on Risk (GAR).

In their meeting, Malini and Ms Mizutori discussed the gender dimensions of disaster risk and the relevance and timeliness of the TAGS campaign. Disasters are not gender-neutral and tend to lead to greater fatalities amongst females than males. Studies suggest that 4 times as many women as men die in natural disasters.

Drowning is a particular risk and already a public health emergency for many of the world’s poorest countries. Yet it is largely unrecognised as such by the world community. As climate change intensifies, more extreme weather events such as floods are projected. With more floods, there will be more drowning deaths. (The WHO estimates that 75% of deaths in floods are due to drowning.)

Women and girls will be at the frontlines of such disaster-related deaths. Ensuring that basic swim safety skills are taught to girls and women in vulnerable communities must be an essential element of disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation strategies.

Ms Mizutori said: “We must make sure that nobody is left behind when disaster strikes. Teaching girls to swim, empowering them so that they can save themselves, is a crucial aspect of managing disaster risk. As the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, I support wholeheartedly Malini’s campaign.”

NB.: Malini serves as an adviser to the Special Representative as a Member of her Advisory Group on the GAR.

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