Gender in Japan: The Unseen Aspect of Natural Disaster Risks


Petraroli, Irene, and Jane Singer. 2020. "Gender in Japan: The Unseen Aspect of Natural Disaster Risks." Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Gender Research, University of Reading, April 2-3.

Authors: Irene Petraroli, Jane Singer


During a natural disaster, the role of gender is a sensitive but unexplored topic. Research is needed not only to improve existing policies in disaster risk reduction, but also to inspire new ways to strengthen disaster resilience through gender equality. This project based on disaster preparedness in Japan not only adds to the conference focus on women empowerment in a specific context, but also gives the opportunity to discuss gender beyond the dominant Western paradigms. The focus on disaster prevention is not casual. The scarcity of information and fora of discussion on gender is one of the reasons for Japan’s low level of gender equality. However, since disaster prevention is a universal concern, disaster education is the ideal opportunity to educate the public about gender awareness. In the current Japanese disaster education, gender is under- or mis-represented and the image of disaster differs from a realistic gendered experience. These problems led to the question “what is the public perception of gender-based disaster risk?”, and “does gender impact the perceptions of gender-based risks?”. To answer these questions, a survey based on behavioural-cognitive theory was designed to assess the public interest and the available information on gender during a disaster. Then, the responses were expanded and contextualised through observations, interviews and workshops. The results showed high interest for a gender perspective on disaster, but also significant differences between male and female respondents. The study also suggested a “cultural” understanding of gender in disaster based on the gendered stereotypes and expectations relied upon in case of disaster. 

Keywords: gender disaster risk, disaster risk communication, gender studies in Japan

Topics: Education, Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2020

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