Gendered perspective in disaster management: Need of the hour

By: Ayesha Noor

Studies have shown that women are 14 times more likely than men to die in disasters. This can be attributed to the biological, socioeconomic, and political dimensions that have significantly affected their ability to survive in crisis situations. From a biological perspective, women’s reproductive roles as child bearers and caregivers can make them less mobile. Secondly, from a sociological dimension, the gendered roles have limited women to learning self-rescue survival skills such as swimming and tree climbing that in many cases are taught primarily to boys and men. Thirdly, unequal access to opportunities, technology, and information resources increases the lack of awareness of disaster management and creates a dependency on male counterparts. Moreover, gender-blind policies and responsiveness in disaster management further act as fuel to fire pushing serious social consequences on women and girls in the aftermath.

This calls for gender-inclusive needs assessments that need to be carried out to assess different needs, vulnerabilities, and capacities of all genders (men, women & transgender) and devise gendered responsive disaster recovery plans facilitating the creation of effective recovery programs that cater to the needs of all genders. At the national level, gender mainstreaming in disaster management policies, laws, budgets, and actions should be supported.

Further, the involvement of women leaders and women welfare organizations in key decisions should be facilitated.  At the community level, separate communal spaces should be made for women that ensure their privacy, and safety and ensures that they have access to food and healthcare needs.

For post-disaster-management practices, ensuring women’s involvement in the reconstruction process, availability of adequate employment opportunities and vocational centers, and fair share in the acquisition of land would serve as a headway toward successful community recovery.

The writer is a student at NUST Islamabad and a freelance columnist.