Gender roles prevail in disaster situations


Numerous studies have found that gender roles persist in disaster situations and this may be a contributing factor to women’s disproportionate vulnerability. Women often continue to take the lead in childcare, care for other dependants and domestic responsibilities. In patriarchal societies in particular, the inevitable increase in care and domestic responsibilities following a disaster, falls on women. Many women, for example, will be tasked with re-establishing the domestic environment, whilst caring for dependants. Responsibilities may also increase due to the loss, abandonment or migration of partners to find work. Many women must then also find an income, raise a family alone and tend to become more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and poverty. A number of studies have shown that women are more likely to suffer violence and sexual assault either whilst the disaster is happening or immediately afterwards. Men can be affected by role reversals, whereby they take on domestic and care responsibilities.

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