Gender, Development and Disasters

Gender, Development and Disasters

Sarah Bradshaw

Sarah Bradshaw critically examines key notions, such as gender, vulnerability, risk, and humanitarianism, underpinning development and disaster discourse. Case studies are used to demonstrate how disasters are experienced individually and collectively as gendered events. Through consideration of processes to engender development, it problematizes women’s inclusion in disaster response and reconstruction. The study highlights that while women are now central to both disaster response and development, tackling gender inequality is not. By critically reflecting on gendered disaster response and the gendered impact of disasters on processes of development, it exposes some important lessons for future policy.

Chapter 4: Internal and international response to disaster

Sarah Bradshaw

Subjects: development studies, development studies, family and gender policy, environment, disasters, environmental sociology, social policy and sociology, family and gender policy


This and the following chapter will focus on the period during which a disaster is unfolding and the emergency phase immediately after an event occurs. This phase is generally referred to as ‘the relief period’ and is characterised by ‘humanitarian’ giving designed to save lives and allevi- ate suffering, or to provide relief to those who have survived the crisis. In the developing world context, much of this relief aid will originate from outside the country, and often outside the region. While the idea of humanitarian relief is based on ideas of universalism and neutrality, this and the following chapter will highlight that neither are necessarily characteristics of the relief period. This chapter will emphasise that, right from the beginning, the outside response is framed by wider political and cultural considerations around giving, fuelled by the media and media reports of the crisis. Not all events of the same magnitude receive the same amount of giving, and the response is not necessarily related to need. Moreover, it is important to remember that, while international agencies are important in major incidents, in most cases the first responders are not outside agents but are in fact the ‘victims’ or ‘survivors’ of the event. Thus, before a consideration of the international and external response, this chapter begins with a consideration of women and men’s own actions for relief and recovery. When a natural or man-made hazard threatens a population, the potential for a ‘disaster’ arises. In some cases there is due warning that an event is about to occur

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