Nepal: Why more women die in natural disasters
By Tufan Neupane
Nepal’s fragile Himalayan terrain gives it one of the highest fatality rates in the world from landslides and flash floods. And 2020 has been particularly destructive with three times more casualties compared to previous years. So far 291 people have lost their lives, 67 are still missing, and 223 have been injured in 481 landslides across the country between 1 April to 13 September.
Women bear the brunt of most disasters like floods, earthquakes and landlsides in Nepal because the countryside has been ‘feminised’ by the outmigration of men. And it is the women who tend to be inside the house more often than men.
Of the total 8,193 fatalities in the 2015 earthquake, 55% (4,497) were women. Even among the children killed, girls (17%) outnumbered boys (15%). It was only in Kathmandu city that more men than women were kiled five years ago.
“Women are more likely than men to die from an outbreak or a disaster because they have less access to information and seldom participate in disaster learning skills,” says Sirjana Tamang, vice-chair of Jugal village of Sindhupalchok which saw multiple landslides this monsoon. “Socio-cultural perceptions of sexuality and traditional beliefs about gender responsibility also put women at greater risk in disasters.”