ActionAid’s response to Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu was a new kind of emergency response. It sought to strengthen women’s leadership and voice in defining the protection response for women.
The response also provided an opportunity to use the power of information to support women to demand the things they needed to realise their rights after the disaster, and in so doing to hold the humanitarian sector to account to recognize, value and respond to women.
Without an existing presence and with limited resources, ActionAid established a program to place women at the centre of the national disaster response by setting up Women’s Information Centres at the heart of emergency operations. This action shifted the humanitarian response in Vanuatu, ensured women could not be ‘forgotten’ and established an entry point for ongoing work to support women to realise their rights and take greater leadership in long-term work related to disaster preparedness and response. Government, women’s leaders and INGOs recognize ActionAid’s work for promoting visibility and thus accountability to women in the Cyclone Pam response.