This briefing argues that in spite of many international policy commitments to address gender inequality, such inequality remains pervasive. Policies are not automatically followed through in practice. The best grassroots practices do not necessarily influence policies.
Disasters can cause higher mortality rates for women than men. Women and girls are affected by gender-based violence before, during and after disasters. Disasters also exacerbate the wage gap between men and women, and among women of different ethnicities – as shown, for example, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The world’s governments are due to agree the second Hyogo Framework for Action in 2015 in Sendai, Japan. The HFA2 will include specific governmental commitments on monitoring and evaluation. According to Dr Le Masson and Ms Langston, this provides an important opportunity to mainstream gender equality effectively in disaster risk reduction (DRR).
For this to happen, say the authors, policy-makers should not simply see women and girls as a homogenous, vulnerable group. They must recognise and empower existing grassroots activities where both women and men, girls and boys, have distinct roles and capacities. Such a gender-sensitive approach will enhance communities’ capacities to deal with disaster risks.
Le Masson, V.; Langston, L. How should the new international disaster risk framework address gender equality? Overseas Development Institute (ODI), London, UK (2014) 8 pp.