Women as Equal Partners in Disaster Risk Reduction Planning and Management

Vol-6 | Issue-05 | May-2021 | Published Online: 15 May 2021    PDF ( 247 KB )
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31305/rrijm.2021.v06.i05.015
Dr Renu Bali 1

1Associate Professor, Kamala Nehru College, Geography Department, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India


Women have long been viewed as unequal victims of any disaster. It is documented many times and many case studies show that they suffer more since majority of them especially in developing countries are economically dependent. They have less disposal of resources at hand to decide independently, are also considered as weak physically, a responsibility or a liability since majority of them are illiterate, uneducated to make any decision and also are not considered at par and are discriminated at the time of relief distribution. They are not trained and skilled enough to save themselves and evacuate others at the time of emergency. This is one aspect of impact of disaster on women which has been widely covered in various studies and reports after the disaster.

On the other hand, in recent years some studies have highlighted the role of women in rehabilitation and relief operations after the disaster as well as use of their skills in building resilient communities. It is important to give them equal responsibilities, by providing training to them in evacuation and relief operations, making them self-independent and also motivating and encouraging them to be part of decision-making committees on disaster planning and implementation. Though these studies have been done at local levels and at very small scale but they show the positive impact of making women as equal partners in disaster management. It is time that we now focus on women not as a victim but as a resource or as an asset in disaster management process.

The National Policy on Disaster Management approved by Government of India in 2009 does not even mention the role and participation of women in Disaster Management. Any policy framework for engendered risk management system would have to focus on the holistic system of disaster management. It should have equal participation of all members of society. What we have right now is lopsided policy heavily tilted towards men and ignore not only the special needs of women but also do not acknowledge the special skills and contributions that women can make to minimize the impact of disaster. The policy frameworks also do not focus on capacities of women in mitigating the hazard in recovery and rehabilitation work. The inherent qualities of women in managing meager resources, equal distribution of resources among family members, as caretakers and also their strategies to safeguard environment and efficient management of resources can help in reducing the occurrence and the impact of disaster. Women can be included in all aspects of disaster management from preparedness to recovery phase. Women should not be looked only as a victim but they should be imparted skills so that it further improves their participation in disaster management.

DRR, leadership, inclusive development, National Policy on Disaster Management
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