Women are acknowledged as a significantly vulnerable group in the face of climate-induced disasters, with international frameworks such as Sendai making specific reference to them being disproportionately affected. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has reported that the death toll of women in climate-induced disasters is almost always much higher than that of men. Women face a whole spectrum of issues: from being at a greater risk of drowning during a flood, because in some societies women are not given swimming lessons, to having to be responsible for the whole family when the home has been destroyed. These issues are positioned within long-standing gender inequalities. Furthermore, in many instances women have reduced access to resources and are often less able to participate in decision-making activities which contribute to all stages of the Disaster Management Cycle.
One of the greatest vulnerabilities that women face in the context of disasters is gender-based violence, particularly within emergency camps. Such was the case in Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis. This is often associated with a collapse of the normal security structures that exist within society to protect them, as well as predatory, exploitative figures playing on the destitution of the situation.
International Disaster Law places the state as the main actor to protect its citizens in the case of disasters. This becomes problematic when women are already marginalised within their society and therefore will be overlooked when it comes to relief efforts, as well as in instances where the government collapses completely, such as in the case of Haiti.
So what can be done to reduce the vulnerability of women in these situations? More work needs to be done to empower women and increase their agency so that they are able to participate in informing decisions which contribute to the disaster management cycle, as well as providing adequate relief efforts that acknowledge the specific struggles that women face.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the recent global push for gender equality, I believe that there is hope of reducing the vulnerabilities faced by women in disasters. In the setting of climate change as a whole, the specific interactions with women and climate need to be better recognised.
*For more content like this, please join our Community
Find out how the Walker Institute and other @UniRdg_Research is contributing to @UN SDG6 - Clean Water and Sanitati… https://t.co/6PwPldyk2R
08:48 AM - 13 May 2021
Check out my blog post on #SciArt and how it can engage people with climate change. Thanks to @PeterGlen17,… https://t.co/tH80lzY4AX
08:34 AM - 13 May 2021
Keep an eye on #PlanetPartners over the next few weeks for lots of inspiring research from the Walker Institute and… https://t.co/C3VnU5FDHs
08:50 AM - 07 May 2021
Day two of our focus on the sustainable development goals means SDG2 - Zero Hunger. This goal is focused on revers… https://t.co/6LT83MSnP3
14:15 PM - 06 May 2021
Keep an eye out for #PlanetPartners, highlighting great research from across the @UniofReading that supports the… https://t.co/99VkosHQkl
08:51 AM - 05 May 2021
What is #EarthDay2021 and why does it matter? Read on.. https://t.co/3iOnlti4Cw
08:37 AM - 22 Apr 2021