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  Gender Equality & Disaster Risk Reduction > Background


The "decade of disasters" vividly demonstrated how catastrophic social events are gendered and the corresponding need for engendering global approaches to reducing disasters. Because gender relations structure the lives of both women and men, with differences through the life cycle and across cultures, the work of reducing risk cannot fall to men alone.

Indeed, in many parts of the world, women have organized effectively to reduce the risk of natural, human-induced and technological disasters. But these efforts are not well-known nor are they integrated into mainstream disaster risk reduction programs.

The full and equal participation women and men is needed to mitigate hazards, reduce social vulnerabilities, and rebuild more sustainable, just, and disaster-resilient communities. Getting there from here is the challenge.

Urgent recommended actions developed from past conferences in Costa Rica, Australia, Canada, Pakistan, and the United States make this case, as did the Expert Working Group consultation conducted in November 2002 in Ankara, Turkey by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women.

Mainstreaming gender equality is urgently needed but implementation of even the most basic change strategies in education, policy and practice are lacking in most parts of the world, especially with respect to mitigation and the reduction of social vulnerability.

In response, this workshop offers practical tools for engendering global responses to hazard, risk and disaster. Through plenary discussions, video, information exchanges, roundtable discussions, and facilitated workshops, participants will contribute and benefit from:

  • Dialogue across disciplines, regions, and sectors about empowering women and reducing the risk of disaster

  • Integrating gender and disaster concerns into parallel dialogues about global development, environmental racism, environmental sustainability, global feminisms and other social movements for change

  • Mentoring and networking in support of the next generation of female disaster managers and responders and their male colleagues

  • Sharing and learning about strategies for transforming organizational culture in disaster management

  • Practical knowledge of existing gender-sensitive strategies, tools, and resources for promoting awareness, training and education

  • Strategies for an integrated approach building gender equality into crisis response and reconstruction

  • Consultations to design and develop educational resources promoting awareness, training and education on gender equality and disaster risk reduction

  • Developing a framework for continued collaboration

One goal of this workshop is to build actual strategies and develop practical tools relating to recommendations from previous work on gender equality and disaster risk reduction. Considerable resources and activities related to this topic have been developed through the Gender Disaster Network and the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women.

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The Gender and Disaster Network is an educational project initiated by women and men interested in gender relations in disaster contexts. Understanding that communication technology is not fully accessible and that we work in many languages and contexts, GDN utilizes the Internet in the support of a global network of researchers and practitioners. It further provides a list of recent articles and resources related to this topic (see What's Out There?).

In 2000, the GDN, with sponsorship from USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Laboratory for Behavioural Research in the International Hurricane Center at Florida International University, hosted a conference called "Reaching Women and Children in Disaster." Recommendations from the workshop encouraged gender awareness in the development of projects and improved the networking capabilities of participants.

UN Division for the Advancement of Women and International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, with support from the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), organized an expert group meeting on "Environmental management and the mitigation of natural disasters: a gender perspective" in Ankara, Turkey from the 6-9 November 2001. The role of women as key environmental managers and key actors in natural disaster management were primary issues explored in the meeting and preceding online discussion forum. Findings and conclusions were considered by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (New York, March 2002), and became a contribution to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, Summer 2002).

Recommendations issued in the final report can be reviewed through the link above, or downloaded here as a pdf document: Final Report (EGM-Turkey-final-report.pdf).

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Current Projects

Online Background Papers

  • MS Word version [ONLINE BACKGROUND PAPERS.doc]
  • Adobe pdf version [ONLINE BACKGROUND PAPERS.pdf]
  • Sara Ahmed, The Gendered Context of Vulnerability: Coping / Adapting to Floods in Eastern India [Ahmed_floods.pdf]
  • Madhavi Ariyabandu, Women: the risk managers in natural disasters [Ariyabandu.pdf]
  • Jodhah Bokhari, International Symposium on Community Based Approaches for Integrated Water Resources Management, Islamabad, February 16-17, 2004 [Bokhari 2004.pdf]
  • Sarah Bradshaw, Brian Linneker, and Rebecca Zúniga, Social Roles and Spatial Relations of NGOs and Civil Society: Participation and Effectiveness in Central America Post Hurricane ‘Mitch.’  [Bradshaw et al..pdf]
  • Sarah Bradshaw, Reconstructing Roles and Relations: a gendered analysis of women’s participation in reconstruction in post-Mitch Nicaragua (draft).   [Bradshaw.pdf]
  • Sarah Bradshaw, Exploring the gender dimensions of reconstruction processes in post-hurricane Mitch (draft).   [Bradshaw_DSApaper.pdf]
  • Catalina Fratalocchi, La Mujer y El Mercado De Trabajo [Fratalocchi1.pdf]
  • Catalina Fratalocchi and Isabel Barros, Diagnostico de la Situacion de la Mujer en la ciudad de Rosario [Barros & Fratalocchi.pdf]
  • Catalina Fratalocchi, La trabajadora industrial en los procesos de reconverción [Fratalocchi_Ina.pdf]
  • A. Nuray Karanci et al. 2003, Psychological Distress and Growth Among the Survivors of the 1999 Marmara Earthquake (presentation) [Karanci_Marmara.pdf]
  • A. Nuray Karanci, N. Alkan, B. Aksit, H. Sucuoglu, and E. Balta, Gender differences in psychological distress, coping, social support, and related variables following the 1995 Dinar (Turkey) earthquake [Karanci et al 99.pdf]
  • A. Nuray Karanci and Bahattin Aksit, Observations on the Social and Psychological Aspects of the 1 May 2003 Bingöl Earthquake [Karanci.pdf]
  • Stuart Katwikirize, World Vision International, Understanding Resettlement Capacities and Vulnerabilities of Displaced Male and Female Headed Households: A Case of Three Camps in Northern Uganda [Katwikirize.pdf]
  • Kathy Lynn, Community Capacity and Wildfire Protection: Indicators of rural, low capacity communities [Lynn indicators.pdf]
  • Kathy Lynn, Center for Watershed and Community Health Community Capacity and Wildfire Protection Program – Annual Report [Lynn.annual report.pdf]
  • Ngo Cong Chinh, Save the Children, Effects of Natural Disasters on Children: The issue of child drowning in the Mekong delta and Central Vietnam [Chinh.pdf]
  • Prafulla Mishra, Resources and Strategies for Engendering Disaster Risk Reduction [Mishra.pdf]
  • Lynn Orstad, Tools for Change: Emergency Management for Women
  • SWEET, Helen Khanom Mukta and Paul Saha, 3 Stories of Lessons Learned [SWEET.pdf]
  • Dawn Tuiloma-Palesoo Sua, Rice, Grain, and Disaster Relief [Tuiloma-Palesoo Sua.pdf]

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Lessons Learned



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