BENGKULU, Indonesia - Service members assigned to Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and local government officials exchanged experiences, ideas, and advice during a Women, Peace and Security (WPS) international engagement conference beginning April 3.
The three-day event was created to spark discussion about ways to enhance disaster preparedness and response. It was also designed to highlight the importance of women and children being active participants when it comes to conflict prevention, building peace, and post-conflict resolution.
“Our goal is to raise awareness that women and children have the power and capability to help during natural disasters and other emergencies,” said Flt. Lt. Chloe Lowndes, Royal Australian Navy, WPS Gender Advisor.
Forty-two government and civilian organizations came together to make the conference possible. Many partner nations were represented including Indonesia, Japan, Peru, Australia, and the United States.
“Women are known to have higher vulnerability during disasters,” said Major General Dr. Ben Yra Rimba, Indonesian National Forces surgeon general. “For this reason, women should be considered an important aspect when planning a disaster relief program.”
The guest lecturers discussed many examples of disasters and how to work through them. They also talked about the current issues of disaster management and global health security and the role women play during a natural disaster.
“I learned a lot during the presentations,” said Daisy Novira, a Bengkulu local. “The conference was very good and interesting. I would be more confident now if a disaster did occur.”
WPS was adopted by the United Nations in Oct. 2000. The United Nations wanted the world to formally recognize the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls, and the importance of full participation of women in conflict prevention and resolution.
Mercy, along with Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6), are participating in PP18, the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. PP18’s objective is to enhance regional coordination in areas such as medical readiness and preparedness for man-made and natural disasters. PP18 consists of more than 800 U.S., partner and host nation personnel working side-by-side to better prepare for potential humanitarian aid and disaster response situations.