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Caught in the storm: the impact of natural disasters

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Following natural disasters, women and children account for more than 75 percent of those displaced. It is indisputable that women are disproportionately affected by natural disasters; however, governments and many non-governmental agencies ignore this fact. This report was produced by the Global Fund for Women, which has assisted women in post-disaster reconstruction following the 2004 tsunamis, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, and Hurricanes Stan and Mitch (Central America 1998). Natural disasters are seen to impact women more significantly than men, for example, women are much more likely to die, to experience violence, and to be denied adequate health care, relief aid or compensation for their losses. In rebuilding and reconstruction women are often excluded from decision-making roles and are more likely to face ongoing economic vulnerability. The following recommendations are made: include women in pre- and post-disaster planning; keep women safe (ensure post-crisis physical safety, including from sexual violence, and provide means for legal redress); protect girls’ education; target women’s health needs; ensure equal aid distribution; and bring women into all decision-making reconstruction processes (long and short-term).

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