Nepal | May 27, 2020

‘Make disaster recovery policies gender-responsive’

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, April 27

A need for gender-responsive disaster risk reduction and recovery policies was stressed in an interaction programme today as existing gender disparities put women at disadvantage during disasters.

The view was expressed during the discussion programme titled ‘Assessing the Gender Implications in Post- Disaster Period’ organised here by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment. Women are left more vulnerable after the 2015 earthquake due to loss of livelihoods and increased risk to sexual and reproductive well-being, said Neelu Thapa, programme coordinator, SAWTEE while making a presentation on the topic.

The presentation highlighted the impacts such as 56 per cent of fatalities were women; two-thirds of the existing basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care sites or birthing centres in the affected areas were damaged; in the year following the earthquake 23,000 cases of trafficking or attempts to traffic were reported; more than 40,000 women were considered to be in danger of sexual violence; estimated loss to women’s livelihood due to earthquake was approximately Rs 15 billion, among others.

She pointed out that the government and National Reconstruction Authority’s attempt at making the reconstruction policies gender-responsive had helped promote opportunities for women, but they still found accessing relief and reconstruction efforts difficult due to social, cultural and political biases.

Chandni Joshi, chairperson of Homenet South Asia wondered why the social construct that ascribes certain roles to women renders them vulnerable needs to be analysed to make women resilient.

Nirmala Dhungana, president, Women for Human Rights, drew attention to multiple burdens faced by women during the earthquake when they were homeless, but had to care for young children and elderly family members while simultaneously looking for income opportunities, more so in the migrant households. She also pointed out how the disaster had led to increase in trafficking cases, especially among young children.

Bhubaneswari Parajuli, who is a gender, social and environment management specialist, National Society for Earthquake Technology, said reconstruction could be an opportunity to bridge social and technical aspects by incorporating gender concerns in the policies.

Renuka Joshi, professor at Padma Kanya Campus emphasised on the continued discourse regarding gender concerns in the disasters risk reduction and reconstruction.

 


A version of this article appears in print on April 28, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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