Gender, Place and Mental Health Recovery in Disasters: Addressing Issues of Equality and Difference

Citation:

Akerkar, Supriya, and Maureen Fordham. 2017. “Gender, Place and Mental Health Recovery in Disasters: Addressing Issues of Equality and Difference.” International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 23 (1): 218–30.

Authors: Supriya Akerkar, Maureen Fordham

Abstract:

UK and wider EU governments follow gender neutral policies in their disaster planning and management based upon a misconception that the gender gap has been eliminated. Findings from our quantitative and qualitative research, carried out as a part of an EU Project, ‘MICRODIS’, in two flood affected locations in England (Tewkesbury floods of 2007, and Morpeth floods of 2008), challenges this notion, revealing that disasters can have paradoxically equal and yet differentiated gendered impacts. Our findings highlight some of the more subtle ways that disasters differentially impacted women and men. It shows that although the degree of mental health recovery of affected men and women was mostly equal, they mobilised different recovery strategies, mostly consistent with their traditional gendered norms and socially constructed roles. Women's recovery strategies were mainly aligned with emotional notions of care, while men's were with notions of control. These findings also show that gendered identities, home-neighbourhood place attachment, and mental wellbeing are related in complex ways. Temporary displacement from their home-neighbourhood places after floods were traumatic for both men and women, although there were perceptible differences in this experience. The paper concludes that gender difference in disasters is ubiquitous globally, and thus analyses must include a gender and diversity analysis and ask more probing gender questions, even in apparently gender equal societies, in order to uncover sometimes hidden impacts.

Keywords: flood, gender, place, mental health, UK, Disasters

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Mental Health Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 2017

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