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Call for New Policy Options in Crises Management

Anuradha Chenoy

Edited by Elanine Enarson and P.G. Dhar Chakrabarti
Sage, Delhi, 2009, pp. 380, price not stated.


Women grieving publicly is the common image of disaster. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Women suffer disaster un- equally. More women are victims than men of disasters—both natural and manmade. Women get less rehabilitation. Women have less voice in expressing their distress. Women work as hard to overcome disaster but they have little role in decision making during and in rebuilding after disasters. This is what this edited book is about. The book is the outcome of the effort of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) in order to encourage governments and civil society and local authorities to use the experiences recounted in this book to make disaster risk reduction movement more effective for women and men. It is based on essays by feminist analysis of women’s and men’s role with a gender perspective during various disasters from world over. This book covers many of the recent disasters worldwide from the tsunami of South and South East Asia, the Himalayan earthquake that affected both sides of the Kashmir border, floods in New Zealand, hurricane disasters and biological and climate change disasters.The first part of the book attempts to create a gender framework for understanding different roles during disasters. The first essay by Madhavi M. Ariyabandu addresses the basics of gender perspectives in disasters. It argues that men and women have different life skills and roles that impact them and the community during disasters. This argument is empirically established in the various experiences of the tsunami where for example, many more women were killed than men for reasons that men were safer in the sea in boats, while women were at home ashore. Women are not trained to swim like men, and less women got after-care. Ariyabandu’s argument that women are not just victims but also have agency is again shown up in most essays, where women lead the struggle to survive despite the odds against them. The need to bring a gender perspective into disaster planning and risk reduction was formalized by the Hyago framework for action in 2005, adopted by 168 governments. Three introductory essays examine this framework that links, development, poverty reduction and gender justice. Based on studies that establish women’s greater risk during emergencies and the simultaneous increase in violence against women, it asks for increasing women’s resilience through empowerment by increasing their participation in community ...

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