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Gender and Climate Hazards in Bangladesh

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T. Cannon
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Bangladesh has experienced a number of high-profile disasters, including cyclones and annual floods. Vulnerability to disasters in Bangladesh correlates strongly with poverty, and it is widely accepted that women make up a disproportionate share of poor people. If there is no significant progress in reducing poverty, then it can be assumed that women will become increasingly affected by the impact of hazards. This paper asks how vulnerability is affected by gender relations, and looks at the different vulnerabilities of men and women in relation to disasters in Bangladesh. It asks how much of women's vulnerability to hazards can be apportioned to them being poor, and how much is due to specific 'gendered' characteristics of self protection, social protection, and livelihood resilience. For example, women in Bangladesh are more calorie deficient than men and cannot therefore recover as well from the adverse health affects of floods. There is also evidence that floods increase women's domestic burden in part through loss of utensils. To reduce the vulnerability of women in the context of disasters, it is crucial to take these gendered factors into account.

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