'Women and Children First’: Introducing a Gender Strategy into Disaster Preparedness

Citation:

Myers, Mary. 1994. "'Women and Children First': Introducing a Gender Strategy into Disaster Preparedness." Focus on Gender 2 (1): 14-6.

Author: Mary Myers

Abstract:

Women have been included in development strategies, but women's issues and women's involvement have been missing from centrally planned government programs of disaster relief. The axiom of putting women and children first has been lost in the maelstrom of immediate need planning without consideration of consequences. The UN developed a training manual and seminars for disaster management. Included in one of the UN manuals are directives that emphasized priorities for nine main components of disaster relief: 1) vulnerability assessment, 2) planning, 3) institutional framework, 4) information systems, 5) resource base, 6) warning systems, 7) response mechanisms, 8) public education and training, and 9) rehearsals. Gender issues should be addressed for each of these components. The question of whether gender was included in a disaster assessment must be answered. Male planners may not be sufficiently informed of how women are affected; therefore, women need to be consulted at the planning stage. A national ministry of women should be involved in disaster relief planning. Women's needs and coping strategies must be accounted for in data-gathering instruments. Emergency supplies must include gynecological and obstetric supplies. The media must be able to reach women and children with disaster warnings. Relief plans must consider whether women will be unduly burdened by the strategy. The inclusion of women in disaster relief efforts not only helps women in crises but helps to break down gender inequalities and imbalances in general. (Abstract from PubMed)

Topics: Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Gendered Discourses, Health, International Organizations

Year: 1994

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