Monday, May 12, 2008

Don’t forget the women of Burma (Myanmar) by Suzie

      When a disaster occurs, don’t forget the gendered aspects. During the chaos, women can be more vulnerable to rape and violence by intimate partners. They may trade their bodies for aid. Because women often care for the young, the old and the sick, they may have greater needs or different needs than men. In many cultures, women have to protect their honor or dignity in different ways that may hinder their ability to get help.
         With extensive community ties, women also can have an advantage in distributing aid after a disaster.
         I haven’t seen an article on women in Burma after the recent cyclone, but here’s one on what happened in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Maldives after the tsunami hit in 2005.  This source and this one provide general information on women in Burma.
        The international women’s rights organization MADRE is one avenue for donations. Its Web site says: “MADRE is working with the Women's Human Rights Defenders Network and Burmese women's organizations.”