Women's Potential in Dealing with Natural Disasters: A Case Study from Sri Lanka


Jayarathne, Saranga Subhashini. “Women’s Potential in Dealing with Natural Disasters: A Case Study from Sri Lanka.” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 20, no. 1 (January 1, 2014): 125–36. doi:10.1080/12259276.2014.11666175.

Author: Saranga Subhashini Jayarathne


Disaster is gender indifferent but its impact is usually gender differentiated. The 2004 Tsunami statistics show that male survivors in Sri Lanka outnumbered female survivors. The notion of women being the “weaker sex’ gives them limited space for learning physical skills that are deemed vital for surviving disasters. Their knowledge and experience regarding the environment is always undermined. This further limits and discourages them from contributing towards disaster management. Women should be incorporated at every level in the disaster management cycle. Women-centered public awareness and skills training can help increase women and children's disaster preparedness and equip them with the skills necessary to overcome disasters. Women's participation in national-level decision-making is also a necessity. A gender-blind disaster management system can only worsen the impact of disasters, especially for women and girls. This paper challenges the depiction of women as mere victims of disasters, while attempting to point out the vital nexus between women's untapped potential and disaster management.

Keywords: disasters, vulnerability, women, untapped potential

Topics: Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Gender Balance, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Governance Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2014

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