The Economist Intelligence Unit has created a new index that finds that South Asian countries largely fail to consider the rights of women in their disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience-building efforts. The Women’s Resilience Index (WRI), commissioned by ActionAid, with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, assesses the extent of women’s involvement in preparing for and recovering from disasters in eight countries (including Japan as a comparator).
FRIDAY FILE: The impact of natural disasters is gendered and therefore responses to these disasters must be gender responsive. Six months after the earthquake in Haiti MADRE’s Yifat Susskind spoke with AWID about the gendered impact of the earthquake, and described what a gender responsive approach to addressing the crisis would look like.
AWID: What are the gendered dimensions of the impact of the Haiti earthquake, and why is it so important that these be considered in any humanitarian or policy response?
YIFAT SUSSKIND: Women are often hardest hit when disaster strikes because they were at a deficit even before the catastrophe. In Haiti, as indeed in every country, women are the poorest and often have no safety net, leaving them most exposed to violence, homelessness and hunger in the wake of disasters. They are also overwhelmingly responsible for other vulnerable people, including infants, children, the elderly, and people who are ill or disabled.
Moreover, women face an increased risk of sexual abuse and violence. In humanitarian disasters, they lose essential access to reproductive healthcare services. In addition, they may be denied property rights to rebuild homes, and they may be passed over in aid distributions that target male heads-of-household. Continue reading
United Nations Development Programme Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery
Post-disaster experience reveals that: (i) women and men are affected by natural disasters in similar and different ways; and (ii) recovery activities are often effective when they reflect and address the articulated needs, priorities and interests of both women and men. There is also growing recognition that women play important roles in recovery processes, despite perceptions about women’s roles and place in public and private spheres.
Post-Disaster Needs Assessment outlines how to:
i) Collect post-disaster quantitative and qualitative sex- and age-disaggregated data across sectors; ii) Identify post-disaster resilience and vulnerabilities of women, girls, boys and men who experience multiple forms of marginalization which class/caste, ethnic/racial, rural/urban distinctions may intensify; iii) Identify post-disaster context-specific needs and priorities of a!ected communities and authorities, and the gendered dimensions therein; iv) Identify public and private multi-sectoral strategies, mechanisms and processes that serve to reinforce gender-aware, community-based, spontaneous recovery initiatives; and v) Enhance post-disaster recovery planning through inter-agency collaboration and shared response to identified gender-aware sectoral needs.
“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.”