The gender gap in the disaster risk management sector: Why it matters

Source(s): World Bank, the
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By Caren Grown and Cristina Otano

Over the past decade, the practice of disaster risk management (DRM) has evolved and matured. From mainly focusing on disaster response, local and international actors alike now emphasize the importance of preparedness and prevention – saving lives and avoiding losses even before disaster strikes.

Yet despite this progress, there’s much more work to be done to ensure that DRM efforts respond to the particular needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls. In no small part due to gender inequalities, women are both more vulnerable to natural hazards and less likely to benefit from relief and recovery efforts than men.  

Evidence shows that when DRM efforts take into account the differences in socio-cultural roles, norms, and values of men and women, the preparedness of the entire community is also strengthened, and the number of deaths is reduced significantly.

In a video blog marking International Women’s Day, Caren Grown, the World Bank Group’s Senior Director for Gender, highlights the importance of addressing gender gaps in disaster risk management. In many countries, the DRM sector is dominated by men, a dynamic which has the potential to embed biased perspectives in the way that DRM programs are designed and implemented.

The sector, however, is slowly incorporating women in decision-making processes. For example, in countries like the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, women are increasingly taking the lead in DRM at the local level. She urged the international DRM community to accelerate these efforts.

“It’s important for the DRM sector to harness and accelerate these community-level movements so that they can become the new norm,” Grown said.

In partnership with the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the World Bank Group has been bolstering its efforts to ensure that disaster risk management activities reach, protect and empower women and girls. In case you missed it, the World Bank, GFDRR, UN Women, the International Recovery Platform and the European Commission recently issued a guidance note that shares best practice examples for how to empower women and advance gender equality in a post-disaster recovery context. 

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