The magnitude of disasters in the Asia Pacific requires a more inclusive approach, one that is more accountable to women’s leadership at local level and our rights and our ability to make changes. While there is a lot of evidence how women organise and lead which we uplift and build on, there still remains a need to take into account the political contexts and political spaces which limit our participation and also limit our ability to engage with the state, at times of conflict or humanitarian crises. Too often government systems are also unable to enhance participation for preparedness and inclusive prevention strategies including the prevention of all forms of gender-based violence.
Localisation means listening to women and being accountable to the feminist approaches and allocation of resources to “shift the power” in line with the Grand Bargain that is relevant to the local context. There is also a need to harness the peace, development and humanitarian nexus at regional, national and local processes so that women are at a decision making table that also enables us to address the nexus – after all that is our daily lived reality.
We know that there is limited funding for women’s organisations and gender equality is often out aside because it is not seen as life saving e.g. according to UNFPA there us inly 1% of funds got to prevent Gender Based Violence and there remain persistent barriers to accessing decision making on humanitarian and crisis response. This happens even though women are first responders and women’s organisations catalyse the local action from preparedness to immediate response. Women also know what is needed, what will be needed in the immediate aftermath and the long term recovery to ensure “we do build back better”.
Localisation of aid can be understood as strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian ecosystem by increasing international investments in, and respect for, the role of national and local actors (both governmental and non-governmental). Localisation has gained currency and urgency in recent years, especially since the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, which saw the launch of the Grand Bargain. This includes accountability to the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities by having increased budget accountable to recommendations on preparedness, protection and recovery including relocation strategies.
In 2016, the World Humanitarian Conference, 30 donors and aid organisations committed to the Grand Bargain, a commitment to change working practice and improve localisation – which means “increased institutional support and direct funding (and power) to local and national responders”. It is a good commitment but it does not always mean women led organisations are recognised as localisation actors.
So how do women-led organisations ensure that at least 25% of the millions of dollars committed to localisation progresses an inclusive women's rights and gender equality agenda?
Partnerships are key in humanitarian crisis situations as women are on the frontline of response which is why UNWomen organised a one-day preparatory consultation Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Localisation of Aid. UNWomen has established the Friends of Gender group within the Grand Bargain context with UN organisations and INGO partners are focusing on four workstreams: cash, needs assessment, participation and localisation. There is also a specific Grand Bargain localisation work stream which addresses the need to strengthen women’s leadership and capacity at local and national level, in order to access more resources as well as enhance participation and coordination.
The overall objective of this event (26 August) is to develop region-specific charter of demands and recommendations to influence the global discussions on localization and participation revolution, under the umbrella of promoting gender responsive action in humanitarian settings.
In our discussions already our contributions are connected - we are organising together strengthening women-led networks from village and community level, to inform and influence national and regional decision making processes. In doing so we are highlighting what needs to change and how investing in the capacity of local women's organisations can sustain the localisation agenda. We are undertaking research so that we can amplify evidence based advocacy and we are providing the space for women to claim their voice and speak out for the changes they want to see, including through the use of innovative information and communication platforms. And we are holding ourselves, our women's spaces for inter-generational, disability and LGBTQI inclusion.
Women are coming together to strategize and develop recommendations from our practice such as the value of collaborating organising at the regional level to influence national and local change to “shift the power” for women of all diversities that the constituency of the StPC brings together – rural women, young women, women with disabilities, as well as amplifying recommendations from partners such as GPPAC Pacific and the Pacific Feminist Forum.