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Journal ArticleDOI

Women rebuilding lives post-disaster: innovative community practices for building resilience and promoting sustainable development

13 Nov 2015-Gender & Development (Routledge)-Vol. 23, Iss: 3, pp 433-448

AbstractDisasters result in devastating human, economic, and environmental effects. The paper highlights women's active participation in community-based disaster recovery efforts drawing from the results of the ‘Rebuilding Lives Post-disaster: Innovative Community Practices for Sustainable Development’ by an international research partnership. Two case studies are presented from Pakistan and the USA to demonstrate how women contribute to building resilience and promoting sustainable development in diverse post-disaster contexts. The policy and practice implications are relevant for discussions regarding the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and framework.

Summary (2 min read)

Introduction

  • Disasters such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes result in devastating effects on people, economies, and the environment.
  • Climate change, population growth, patterns of economic development, pollution, increased urbanisation, unsustainable development, andwidening social andeconomicdisparities have contributed toa recentdramatic increase in global disaster events.
  • Altruistic humanitarian impulses are also stymied through national self-interest, as has occurred in climate change discussions.
  • The article then presents key points from the research into women’s experience from the two study contexts.

Understanding resilience

  • The authors research partnership is contributing to a more nuanced understanding of resilience in post-disaster contexts designed to better understand human society–environment interactions, primarily based on social action and social justice approaches.
  • According to Ungar, resilience is both the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to the psychological, social, cultural and physical resources that build and sustain their well-being, and their individual Julie Drolet et al.
  • Gender & Development Vol. 23, No. 3, 2015 435 and collective capacity to negotiate for these resources to be provided in culturally meaningful ways.
  • The role of ‘social capital’ (that is, relations of mutual support between neighbours, friends, community groups, and other social networks) is considered by Robin Ersing (2012) as a means to enhance community resilience.
  • Recent social work approaches to disasters also highlight the importance of environmental justice, arguing that this is integral to social justice, and the realisation of human rights and sustainable development (Dominelli 2012).

Linking DRR to sustainable development

  • Under the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, governments have sought to increase resilience capacity by focusing on community-based disaster risk reduction , and linking this to the Sustainable Development Goals that have replaced the Millennium Development Goals.
  • Critically, when the authors examined the common factors arising from their research in the case-study sites, they noted that life-stage and structural factors, including taken-forgranted gendered patterns and practices, shape particular vulnerabilities for women.
  • From their role in maintaining the home environment to rebuilding the community, the study shows the vulnerability and capability of women in post-disaster activities.
  • And the difficulties involved in conforming to norms of seclusion, women attempted to adhere to these norms wherever possible.

Case study 2: Hurricanes in Volusia County, Florida, USA

  • As suggested at the start of the article, resilience has individual and collective dimensions, and individuals respond to, and recover from, disasters within an environmental and social context.
  • A focus group session was held with affected women who spoke limited English, and Julie Drolet et al.
  • During the focus group, members of the migrant labourer community spoke of the strength found within their collective actions to unite and support each other during the early stages of disaster recovery.

Notes

  • 2 The Australian bushfires occurred in the state of Victoria on 7 February 2009 and is the single largest disaster to occur in Australia during peacetime since Federation.
  • Thousands of people were deeply affected by the traumatic experience of the Black Saturday bushfires that resulted in 173 people losing their lives, over 2,000 homes lost, and 78 towns impacted.
  • The Australian country team conducted research in partnership with affected communities in 2013–14 to learn about their experiences.

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Drolet, J. and Dominelli, L. and Alston, M. and Ersing, R. and Mathbor, G. and Wu, H. (2015) 'Women
rebuilding lives post-disaster : innovative community practices for building resilience and promoting
sustainable development.', Gender and development., 23 (3). pp. 433-448.
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Women rebuilding lives post-disaster: innovative
community practices for building resilience and
promoting sustainable development
Julie Drolet, Lena Dominelli, Margaret Alston, Robin Ersing, Golam Mathbor
& Haorui Wu
To cite this article: Julie Drolet, Lena Dominelli, Margaret Alston, Robin Ersing, Golam Mathbor
& Haorui Wu (2015) Women rebuilding lives post-disaster: innovative community practices for
building resilience and promoting sustainable development, Gender & Development, 23:3, 433-448,
DOI: 10.1080/13552074.2015.1096040
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/13552074.2015.1096040
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Citing articles: 9 View citing articles

Women rebuilding lives post-disaster:
innovative community practices for building
resilience and promoting sustainable
development
Julie Drolet, Lena Dominelli, Margaret Alston, Robin Ersing,
Golam Mathbor and Haorui Wu
Disasters result in devastating human, economic, and environmental effects. The paper
highlights womens active participation in community-based disaster recovery efforts
drawing from the results of the Rebuilding Lives Post-disaster: Innovative Community
Practices for Sustainable Development by an international research partnership. Two
case studies are presented from Pakistan and the USA to demonstrate how women
contribute to building resilience and promoting sustainable development in diverse post-
disaster contexts. The policy and practice implications are relevant for discussions
regarding the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and framework.
Partiendo del hecho de que los desastres provocan efectos devastadores en términos
humanos, económicos y ambientales y apoyándose en los resultados aportados por el
estudio Rebuilding Lives Post-Disaster: Innovative Community Practices for
Sustainable Development [Reconstruyendo la vida tras el desastre: prácticas
comunitarias innov adoras para el desarrollo sostenible], realizado por una alianza para
la investigación a nivel internacional, el presente artículo destaca la dinámica
participación de las mujeres en las actividades comunitarias de recuperación tras el
desastre. En tal sentido, se presentan dos estudios de caso efectuados en Pakistán y en
Estados Unidos, los cuales pretenden mostrar cómo las mujeres coadyuvan en la
construcción de la resiliencia y la promoción del desarrollo sostenible en diversos
contextos posdesastre. Las implicaciones que ello conlleva para las políticas públicas y
la práctica resultan pertinentes para los debates realizados en el marco de los
Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible a ser impulsado después de 2015.
Les catastrophes ont des effets dévastateurs sur les plans humain, économique et
environnemen tal. Cet article met en relief la participation active des femmes aux efforts
communautaires de relèvement post-catastrophe en se servant des résultats de «
Rebuilding Lives Post-Disaster: Innovative Community Practices for Sustainable
Gender & Development, 2015
Vol. 23, No. 3, 433 448, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13552074.2015.1096040
© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article distributed
under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/
licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
433

Development » (Reconstruire les vies post-catastrophe : pratiques communautaires
innovantes pour le développement durable), rapport produit par un partenariat de
recher che international. Deux études de cas sont proposées, une du Pakistan et lautr e des
États-Unis, pour présenter la manière dont les femmes contribuent au renforcement de la
résilience et à la prom otion du développement durable dans divers contextes post-
catastrophe. Les implications sur le plan des politiques et des pratiques sont pertinentes
pour les discussions re latives au cadre et aux Objectifs de développement durable post-2015.
Key words: resilience; disasters; recovery; gender; partnership
Introduction
Disasters such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes result in devastating effects
on people, economies, and the environment. Climate change, population growth, patterns
of economic development, pollution, increased urbanisation, unsustainable development,
andwidening social and economicdisparities have contributed to a recent dramatic increase
in global disaster events. The International Disaster Database (http://www.unisdr.org/w e/
inform/disaster-statistics, last checked 9 September 2015) highlights that the incidence of
flood and windstorm disasters has not only increased markedly since the 1960s, but the
events themselves are more intense, last longer, and affect more people. As signatories to
the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change, launched in 1992,
most countries have committed to preventing dangerous anthropogenic (human-
induced) climate change (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2014).
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 20152030 reports that over a ten-year
period, from 2005 to 2015, disasters across the world caused US$1.3 trillion in economic
losses, displaced 144 million people, and affected 1.5 billion others (UN 2015, 9). These stag-
gering figures sometimes produce compassion fatigue, as people become inured to them.
Altruistic humanitarian impulses are also stymied through national self-interest, as has
occurred in climate change discussions. Climate change, a (hu)man-made disaster, is a
global phenomenon, and like other disasters, it affects everyone differently. It has demon-
strable deleterious consequences for small island states, in danger of sinking into the ocean
as ice-caps melt (IPCC 2014), requiring both mitigation and adaptation endeavours to
reduce this threat (IPCC 2014). Diverse communities also experience disasters differently;
for example, the more economically and socially marginalised the community, the more
risks there are from disasters. Some locations are more vulnerable than others because
there are differences in geography, aid and resources are distributed unequally, and the pol-
itical will to affirm equality between peoples within countries and across borders is absent.
Rebuilding lives post-disaster: a research initiative
In 2012, a research partnership was set up, titled Rebuilding Lives Post-disaster: Inno-
vative Community Practices for Sustainable Development (RLPD 2015). It brought
Women rebuilding lives post-disaster
434
Gender & Development Vol. 23, No. 3, 2015

together academic researchers from Canada, the UK, the USA, Australia, India, Pakistan,
and Taiwan; practitioners and educators from social work educational institutions such
as the Canadian Association for Social Work Education, and the International Associ-
ation of Schools of Social Work; and community-based and government partners, who
bring expertise in disaster recovery and reconstruction. Since our inception, we have
conducted field research in six countries to better understand the long-term disaster
recovery and reconstruction challenges faced by communities affected by disasters.
We recognise building resilience requires more than reducing vulnerability it calls
for empowering responses to disasters, which aim to support and foster peoples resili-
ence, enhancing their abil ity to respond to disasters, against a backdrop of the longer-
term challenges of building susta inable livelihoods. In our research, we employ and
develop existing theories about the social and gendered construction of vulnerability
and capabilities.
This article draws on recent research undertaken by the RLPD partnership, and pre-
sents two case studies from Pakistan and the USA, to demonstrate the similarities, as
well as differences, in the experience of two communi ties coping with the impact of
different natural disasters and hazards in countries with very different levels of wealth.
The research findings highlight womens active participation in community-based
disaster recovery efforts. The study employed qualitative research methods, and the
sample for all six countries included over 70 interviews with community leaders, gov-
ernment officials, and disaster responders, and 18 focus group meetings with over 250
affected women and men to learn about the social and economic effects of disasters,
and in particular their impact on gender roles and power relations. The research was
guided by the principles of community-based research in diverse cultural contexts,
1
which holds that it is appropriate to learn from the perspectives of disaster-affected indi-
viduals and community members in disaster recovery processes.
The article starts with three brief sections to frame the research findings and discus-
sion. These explore the concept of resilience, highlight the importance of linking research
and programming on disaster risk reduction (DRR) to sustainable development, and
examine the topic of women and resilience. The article then presents key points from
the research into womens experience from the two study contexts.
Understanding resilience
Our research partnership is contributing to a more nuanced understanding of resilience
in post-disaster contexts designed to better understand human societyenvironment
interactions, primarily based on social action and social justice approaches. According
to Ungar,
resilience is both the capaci ty of individuals to navigate their way to the psychological, social,
cultural and physical resources that build and sustain their well-being , and their individual
Julie Drolet et al.
Gender & Development Vol. 23, No. 3, 2015
435

Citations
More filters

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Results indicate that residents who volunteered for DRR activities, received geological disaster education, participated in evacuation drills, and reported higher income levels had a perception of higher community resilience.
Abstract: Disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities have given growing attention to building community resilience, but the effects of such efforts on community resilience are still under-investigated, especially in China where the concept of community resilience has only just emerged. Using the Communities Advancing Resilience Toolkit Assessment Survey, data on self-perceived community resilience were collected in 2017 from a post-disaster Chinese rural community in Yingxiu Town, which was the epicenter of the Wenchuan earthquake (Magnitude = 8.0) in the year 2008. Linear regression analyses were conducted to explore the correlations between residents’ DRR behaviors and perceived community resilience with the control of their socio-demographic characteristics including age, ethnicity, gender, education, income level, employment status and marital status. Results indicate that residents who volunteered for DRR activities, received geological disaster education, participated in evacuation drills, and reported higher income levels had a perception of higher community resilience. Practice research is suggested to help clarify the cause and effect of DRR work on the enhancement of community resilience to disasters in China and abroad. Attention is also called to the development of a Chinese indigenous community resilience concept and assessment instrument.

46 citations


Cites background from "Women rebuilding lives post-disaste..."

  • ...DRR is also a significant part of sustainable development [7,12,13]....

    [...]

  • ...The relations of mutual support among neighbors is a primary component of social capital, the role of which in the enhancement of community resilience has already been widely recognized and promoted [7,32]....

    [...]


Book ChapterDOI
01 Jan 2018
Abstract: Past research clearly demonstrates that gender influences resources, capacities, decision-making processes, and outcomes throughout the disaster lifecycle, as well as the practical management of disaster risk, response, and recovery structures. Now well-established in disaster science, gender analysis has grown in scope and influence over the past decade. This chapter updates the authors’ earlier review, again focusing on English-language peer-reviewed materials relating to natural, technological, and intentional hazards and disasters. The authors reflect on the diverse theories and methods shaping contemporary research, and synthesize key international findings about mortality, health, and well-being; gender-based violence; family and work; and grassroots change. They further highlight three critical lines of inquiry now emerging regarding sexual minorities, masculinities, and climate change in gender and disaster research. The chapter concludes with research recommendations and with strategies for utilizing new knowledge about gendered vulnerability and resilience to reduce risk, minimize losses, and decrease suffering in disasters.

44 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This paper examines changes in gender relations in a small coastal community as a result of the 2010 Chile earthquake and tsunami. Vulnerability and resilience are used as a conceptual framework to analyse these changes. Based on empirical evidence from a seven-year longitudinal study and quasi-ethnographic work, we explore changes in power relations at the different stages of the disaster and longer-term recovery as well as the conditions that fostered these changes. Our findings show distinct patterns of change. First, disasters can trigger long-lasting changes that challenge historical patriarchal relations. Second, while vulnerability increases following a disaster, resilience can potentially counteract women’s vulnerability. We propose that resilience can be a pathway to produce long-term changes in gender relations and empower women in the context of disasters.

42 citations


Cites background from "Women rebuilding lives post-disaste..."

  • ...Drolet et al. (2015) studied how a small group of women spontaneously organised support to migrant communities in response to hurricanes in 2004 and 2005....

    [...]

  • ...often portray women as passive, helpless victims, lacking agency (Bradshaw and Fordham 2013), a portrayal supported by evidence that women are more vulnerable to hazards than men (Dhungel and Ojha 2012; Drolet et al. 2015; Horton 2012)....

    [...]

  • ...Vulnerability studies often portray women as passive, helpless victims, lacking agency (Bradshaw and Fordham 2013), a portrayal supported by evidence that women are more vulnerable to hazards than men (Dhungel and Ojha 2012; Drolet et al. 2015; Horton 2012)....

    [...]

  • ...Disasters therefore present an opportunity to challenge gender disparities (Alston 2013; Drolet et al. 2015), but less is known about the extent to which disasters foster progressive change or under what conditions this can occur (Pacholok 2013)....

    [...]


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is implied that managing women’s health challenges may result in reducing the distressing effects of disaster, and identification and application of the mechanisms by which women's well-being in physical, mental, reproductive, and environmental aspects can be protected after disasters are supported.
Abstract: Disasters do not affect people equally; the impact of disasters on the lives of women is different from other groups of a community. Women's fundamental rights to health and safety are violated after disasters. The authors of this study aimed to explore various factors of women's health with reference to previous natural disasters in Iran. A qualitative approach using in-depth unstructured interviews and field observations was employed to explore women's health factors in the affected regions. A total of 22 participants affected by disasters, as well as key informants, were interviewed applying the purposeful sampling method. Data were collected in 2014 in three provinces, including East Azerbaijan, Bushehr, and Mazandaran. A content analysis using the Graneheim approach was performed for analyzing the transcribed interviews. Two themes and four categories were extracted from the data. The themes that emerged included psycho-physical effects and women's health status. Physical and psycho-emotional effects and reproductive and environmental health effects were the four emergent categories. The findings implied that managing women's health challenges may result in reducing the distressing effects of disaster. These findings support identification and application of the mechanisms by which women's well-being in physical, mental, reproductive, and environmental aspects can be protected after disasters.

21 citations


Cites background from "Women rebuilding lives post-disaste..."

  • ...Similarly, a number of case studies have reported such post-disaster livelihood challenges, which affected women’s health negatively (Drolet et al. 2015; Enarson 2012; Harville, Xiong, and Buekens 2010; Horton 2012)....

    [...]

  • ...Providing a healthy lifestyle for affected women and improving their economic security contribute to building resilience and development in disaster-stricken communities (Drolet et al. 2015; Groh 2007)....

    [...]


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Women's health risks and vulnerabilities can be decrease largely with education in general, specifically with promotion of health education, and the higher the education status of the mother, the higher was the rate of health facility utilization.
Abstract: Disasters are not discriminatory but affect every one of us irrespective of our age, gender, religion or any other determinant. However, women tend to feel the greater brunt of disaster consequences. It is a need of the day to examine why women are more vulnerable and at a great risk during disasters. In this regard, we conducted this study to assess public health risks and vulnerabilities in the context of floods through gender perspective. The study is a cross-sectional study conducted from September 2013 to January 2014. Two stage sampling techniques were adopted; first, two union councils (administrative units) in the district of Nowshehra were purposively selected as these were the most affected union councils in the floods of 2010 in Pakistan, and in the second stage, 386 households were selected randomly. The data analysis reveals that although more than 51% of the sample population was female, but females make up only 5% of household heads. Antenatal care (45%) and postnatal care (39%) coverage is very low and skilled birth attendants assisted only 26% deliveries. The higher the education status of the mother, the higher was the rate of health facility utilization. We concluded that women's health risks and vulnerabilities can be decrease largely with education in general, specifically with promotion of health education.

20 citations


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