Gender stereotypes put women more at risk during disasters
Chennai: When a disaster strikes, casualties among women and girls are reportedly higher than among men and boys. This finding was the highlight of a panel discussion here on 'Crisis and Gender' with experts from across the country.
"In Cuddalore, during the 2004 tsunami, the number of women dead was 12 times more than that of the men," said gender and disaster expert Chaman Pincha adding the deaths of transgenders were not recorded. The reasons for lower survival rates among women range from socio-cultural restrictions to lack of protection and insufficient medical and child care support in rehabilitation camps.
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Gender-biased Disaster Response
The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) came into being in December 2009. It has played a tremendous role in enhancing regional and national capacities for disaster response in the region.
The recent ‘ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management’ document provides thoughtful insights on how AADMER can move towards a more people-centred, sustainable and better-networked approach. However, these suggestions do not directly address the disproportionate impact disasters have on women.
The UN Security Council’s first resolution on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda was launched in October 2000. Although it was developed with the plight of women in conflict settings in mind, the WPS agenda itself is not just about conflict or even just about women.
A transformative agenda seeks to create sustainable peace, ensure greater participation and facilitate the move from gender inequality to gender justice. In its broader vision, the agenda resonates with the objectives of the ASEAN Community post-2015 and is contiguous with ASEAN’s human rights agenda.
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Natural disaster risks: Regional cooperation is vital
There is no sub-continent more vulnerable to climate change than South Asia.
This can be felt in a number of ways, such as record high temperatures in India and Pakistan and increasingly frequent natural disasters such as tsunamis, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides.
Most acutely these impacts are creating burdens on those most connected to natural resources, such as the farmers of the Himalayas and Bangladesh, those living around rivers and Glacial Lakes who are impacted by floods, and small island nations which await rising sea levels.
Despite these challenges, we can see an opportunity for South Asia to become a harbor for best practices and solutions to these issues. To make this a reality, regional cooperation is a necessity.
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