Women’s Protection in Disaster Management

Latest Newson October 27, 2022

Disaster management for women, as a group that is more vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation, requires integrated efforts from the stage of disaster mitigation to rehabilitation. Therefore, coordination and synergy of various parties, ranging from Ministries/Agencies to Community Institutions is urgently needed in realizing strategic, inclusive, and friendly disaster management for women.

Women often become victims in disaster situations because they have lower access to resources such as toilet facilities, clean water, health facilities, and sanitation while in refugee camps than men. For example, toilet facilities may be constructed far from refugee shelters, forcing women to walk a long distance along a route that may not be well lit, increasing risk to their safety. 

Women also tend to experience nutritional deficiencies (nutrition) because they have their own nutritional needs (especially when pregnant or breastfeeding a baby). The scarcity of adequate places to breastfeed babies, the lack of nutritious food according to specific nutritional needs, and the inadequate quality of clothing are also reasons why women are vulnerable in refugee camps.

Various traditions, cultures, and religious convictions can also make it challenging for women to immediately use the facilities present in the refugee camps. This has serious consequences in an effort to survive in a disaster situation.

Women are often also unable to attend training to save themselves from natural disasters. This happens because of structures of cultural values ​​in which women may have to focus on domestic affairs, causing them to rarely be able to leave the house for training. This lack of exposure to training tends to mean that their knowledge related to disaster prevention and management may be lower than that of their male counterparts. Additionally, women’s decreased knowledge of self-rescue techniques has the consequence that they are more vulnerable to becoming victims of natural disasters.

Women’s issues are frequently not emphasized because there are few opportunities for them to take on leadership roles in refugee camps, which frequently hinders their views from being heard. Women are often underrepresented in internal meetings with members of refugee camps, or in external meetings with stakeholders. Their issues are less likely to be heard due to this representational issue.

Women who have often been seen more as objects, in the sense of only being victims of disasters, can also play a key role in disaster management, both in the pre-disaster, emergency response, and post-disaster periods. In pre-disaster, women can play a role in disaster risk reduction, including disaster risk reduction from a gender perspective. The role of women in the emergency response period is equally important, especially in the provision of clean water and food. Meanwhile, the role of women in the post-disaster period includes roles in providing reproductive health services, access to education and skills, as well as participation in any rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

Therefore, it is necessary to increase awareness and knowledge about the involvement of women in dealing with disasters, including protecting vulnerable groups in order to strengthen community preparedness.