“Any response to natural disasters should bear in mind the gender dynamics that disadvantage women and recognize that the disasters can present an opportunity for establishing some sort of balance where there was none before. Reconstruction can be an important time to right gender wrongs. For instance, deeds to new houses can be registered jointly or in women’s names. Women’s organisations should have the know-how and power to assess and mitigate hazards as well as to provide leadership in responses to disasters.
According to a report by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), an astounding eighty per cent of the people who died in the 2005 tsunami were women. The tsunami, which affected Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, India and parts of East Africa, provides valuable lessons in how to respond to natural disasters; a gender-responsive approach is a must. The Gender and Disaster Network asserts that “nothing in disaster work is gender neutral.” Data must be disaggregated by gender. Sex-specific needs must be identified and addressed, and gender budgeting must be implemented and monitored.”