Responding to unique needs of women and girls
Food, water, and medicine are limited during and after a crisis. In a household where resources are limited, women are usually the ones to eat the least amount of food because they sacrifice their share for their husband and children. Women and girls, being more vulnerable during and after disaster, have needs that should be considered in designing and implementing multipurpose cash transfer (MPCT). Therefore, their involvement is important to ensure that the MPCT actually addresses their and those of their families and communities’ needs, challenges, and opportunities.
In the Typhoon Kammuri response led by CARE together with Leyte Center for Development Inc in the early months of 2020, MPCT has involved women from the design phase of the distribution process. Each household was given the opportunity to decide which family member should be registered and receive cash transfers on behalf of the household. In these cases, women were as likely to receive the MPCT as men. Because of this, the usual tension on financial decision-making upon the receipt of the cash was reduced, as the registered names in the distribution list came from and owned by the household. Women will then have a voice on where to allocate the cash.
Prior to the distribution of the MPCT, the community, especially women, has also received complementary training sessions on Build Back Safer and hygiene and sanitation. Build Back Safer which involves lessons on carpentry, usually gathers men as participants because carpentry is traditionally considered as men’s work. However, since women were encouraged to come, they have attended and realized that they can also do such work. This has also been useful for men participants to be aware that women can also do other roles. Women have also reported that they appreciate such sessions because they served as a safe space so they can share their experiences and learn from one another. It is also important for the women to have learned handwashing measures that they can share with their children at home. This has proven that complementing MPCT with learning sessions raise awareness on disrupting gender roles among men and women in the community.
Women supporting women
Most volunteers during the distribution of water kits and MPCT were women. Their initiative comes from the sense of responsibility they have towards their community.
In one barangay, a woman leader in an organization ensured that people in her community are informed if there is a disaster coming. Without her, people at-risk might have not been able to prepare or evacuate their area since information dissemination is a challenge in the area because of limited cellular signal. This leader has also expressed the need to revive the women’s organization to have more activities that could benefit the community and to access basic services collectively.
To save time, effort, and resources, women and men who collected the cash took the opportunity to buy their needs on the same day of the distribution, since the distribution sites are near market places. Due to lockdown measures by the government, pregnant women and the elderly were not allowed to go outside. Their women neighbors, then, offered to buy their needs for them. This sense of solidarity among women has been more evident in times of disaster and pandemic. Safety issues due to the distance from the distribution site and their communities were reduced when women self-organized to go together to protect one another.
Women protecting other women has also been true in Brgy. Magsaysay. Josefina, 68, is a farmer whose income has also been affected by the pandemic. Because some of her farm produce were not sold due to travel ban, she shared them to her neighbors since she knows that a lot of families in her community are suffering from hunger. She has also visited houses of women to talk to them to make sure that they are safe. This has given these women psychosocial support. In times of extreme experiences brought by a disaster and pandemic, it is likely that people feel fearful and anxious. Mental health and psychosocial support is a clearly-identified need, and therefore, doubly crucial.