Friday, March 11, 2011

Japanese earthquake, tsunami & gender (by Suzie)

" [C]onsiderations of gender relations can seem an irrelevance; the 'tyranny of the urgent' makes gender issues appear a luxury" during a disaster, writes Maureen Fordham in a 2000 research paper. Gender is often invisible in the analysis of disaster management, even though women tend to be more vulnerable than men and may have different needs.

Domestic space is particularly at risk in earthquakes ... . Residential buildings are most often damaged in the greatest numbers and they tend to be occupied most often by women, children and the elderly ...
Men may be safer if they work outside or in offices that are stronger than homes. Men may be separated from their families, leaving women to care for children and the elderly. Because women tend to live longer and have less money, they may be more vulnerable. Ditto for immigrant women who do paid domestic work. Violence against women increases in disasters. Men are much more likely to get work afterward in reconstruction.

Soon, I expect international women's organizations to begin work on relief. If you have more information, please leave it in the comments. Personally, I was greatly relieved to hear back, via email, from a friend in Tokyo that she and her husband are safe, but stuck in their offices due to lack of transportation.