How gender matters in environmental and disaster risk management is not yet well understood. The United Nations (UN) Inter-Agency Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) has worked with the Division for the Advancement of Women to bring together worldwide expertise on gender-sensitive approaches to sustainable development and natural disaster reduction. This report outlines why gender matters. When disaster strikes, women can end up with higher community and care responsibilities than normal and increased risk of domestic and sexual violence. Moreover, if women are not recognised as being economically productive for their work in the informal sector, they might not get access to economic recovery assistance. Likewise, if men's needs for social and emotional support are not recognised it could delay their long-term recovery. Post-disaster reconstruction offers a 'window of opportunity' when fixed gender roles may change, stereotypes are challenged and women's capacities built. The experts make extensive recommendations to the UN system, donors, governments, international and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), other civil society actors, and the private sector (such as insurance companies). The recommendations include: make sound environmental management, risk management and gender equality an integral part of sustainable development and vice-versa; monitor the full enjoyment by women of their human rights throughout the disaster cycle; eliminate gender myths that reinforce stereotyped images of women as heroines or victims in disasters; develop tools to help include gender analysis in disaster risk management at the local level.
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