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 7: Case studies of secondary disasters

Sarah Bradshaw

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


This chapter will provide short case studies of some issues that may arise post event and have such negative consequences that they become ‘secondary disasters’. Secondary disasters are more usually seen to be events triggered by a natural hazard that causes collateral damage, such as a fire sparked by an earthquake. Since a fire may cause more damage to properties and threaten lives more than the earthquake itself, the term ‘secondary’ does not refer to scale but rather sequencing. It is a damaging event triggered by the initial hazard. More recently, social research has highlighted that secondary disasters are not only physical events but can be social events also. Two such potential secondary disasters will be explored here – psychosocial impact and violence. The two are linked through the fact that they have an impact on women in particular. They raise the issue of what is the ‘disaster’ – the physical impact and loss of land and possessions, or a more intangible ‘secondary’ impact such as higher levels of violence and poor mental health? Exact data on the prevalence and incidence of violence against women is patchy and often unreliable. This is because many women suffer in silence and do not report cases and, related to this, because legal systems often do not see such violence as a serious crime, if a crime at all. The term ‘domestic violence’ captures the fact that violence against women usually occurs in the domestic realm, the home. It also draws a distinction between ‘violence’ in general and violence against women.

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