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Guidelines for gender sensitive disaster management: Practical steps to ensure women’s needs are met and women’s human rights are protected during disasters

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What can we learn from natural disaster responses of the past to make future efforts of this kind more gender-sensitive? This publication is the result of the project ‘Survey of Women’s Human Rights Violations in the Aftermath of the Tsunami in India, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka and the October 8, 2005 Earthquake in Pakistan’, which was coordinated by Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD). This project was developed in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It examines women’s human rights issues in areas affected by this disaster: the Aceh province in Indonesia, Tamil Nadu in India, Sri Lanka and the Andaman coast of Thailand. The survey was subsequently expanded to document women’s human rights violations in Northern Pakistan following the 2005 earthquake. The purpose of these guidelines is to assist governments, the non-governmental sector and civil society dealing with women in post-disaster situations. They are divided into immediate, mid-term and long-term responses. This research finds that a rights-based approach (socio-economic and cultural rights, as well as civil and political) must be adopted in order to promote and protect women’s rights. Recommendations for gender-sensitive disaster management on global and national levels are provided. For example, it is recommended that officials in governments and aid agencies (including UN) undergo gender-sensitive disaster management training. Among the recommendations at a national level is to set up multi-stakeholder gender focal committees in the immediate aftermath of disasters.

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