I have come to the conclusion that both men and women can play roles in the community

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Plan International is a member of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance. Plan promotes gender equality by facilitating the meaningful participation of girls, adolescents, and women to lead, coordinate and propose new ways to manage flood risk in their communities, so that they can live in a safe and protected environment. This blog is an interview with Ms. Eneydania, who has been involved in the project since July 2018.

What motivated you to participate in the flood resilience building project?

When I came to this community 30 years ago, there was a lack of local governance. We already live in a poor region with few economic opportunities and together with the lack of organisation, this means floods affect us more strongly.

In my community women face economic and social hardship. The difference in opportunities between women and men is a very complicated issue, especially in terms of access to resources and the still prevalent machismo culture where men alone want to organise and lead community development. Before the project “Increasing Flood Resilience in Central America”, there was no opportunity for us to organise ourselves, and, to be honest, at the beginning I was afraid to get organised, to speak out, to be a leader.

However, after participating in some activities with Plan International (Plan), I started to lose my fear. I have been working with this organisation for several years now. In this time, I have enjoyed participating in the project and become better connected and organised within my community.

At the beginning of the project, I was invited to participate in the local committee for prevention and attention to disasters (COLOPRED). I saw an opportunity to get organised, to learn how to protect myself in case of floods. Something that caught my attention is the fact that this project gives girls, adolescents, and women the opportunity to participate, to organise ourselves in groups in the community, and to plan and develop activities that help families be better prepared in case of a flood.

What has your experience been since you started participating in the project?

It has been a very good experience and different from other projects. I remember that first Plan came with mobile phones to do surveys about the floods, then they came back to a meeting where they presented the results of these surveys. We saw a reflection of the community’s reality. Plan said it was necessary to become more organised within the community since everyone was working individually. They invited me to get involved in this effort to better organise and coordinate within the community and since then I hold the position of health coordinator in COLOPRED.

Once we got organised in COLOPRED, Plan started to train us in different roles and functions, the country’s risk law and Plan’s protection and gender policy for example. We developed our own community risk plan and we have participated in trainings on how to protect the environment from fires. It has been a very nice experience because we receive a lot of training.

What opportunities has the project provided you with?

First of all, the project is teaching us new things. It is preparing us to be less affected by floods. Plan has given us equipment, we have a modern early warning systems, and schools are preparing children to grow up more resilient to floods.

I also like the project because they are giving equal participation to both women and men. Here, in the women’s group, we work together as women. We propose developments and our opinions are taken into account in the management of our risks.

Does your family support you to be part of the project?

I only live with my husband and he has always supported me to participate. Sometimes, he’s the one who goes to meetings and I go to others, we both participate in the process of organising our community. I have come to the conclusion that both men and women can play roles in the community. We are equal, there is no difference between us in terms of we can do.

As a woman, what is your personal commitment in relation to building community resilience to floods?

My commitment is to not withdraw from the project activities. I plan to stay involved until the end of the project. I want this change for me, but I would also like the same for the other women in my community: that they work in an organised way, that they learn new things, and that they participate in the activities of the project.

With my experience, I commit myself to support the women who start as members of COLOPRED, to pass on to them the information that I have learnt during these two and a half years of project implementation. We will develop community work plans and continue to improve resilience in the community through organisation, reforestation, and general preparedness measures.

Monday 8 March is International Women’s day and the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance is celebrating women leaders in the organisations and communities we work with. If you want to hear from more inspiring women in leadership roles follow us on twitter at @floodallliance and check out our other blogs.

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