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 9: Disaster Risk Reduction

Sarah Bradshaw

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


The opening chapters of this book explored the discourses of disasters and development. They considered what makes a hazard a disaster, exploring notions of vulnerability and risk. Subsequent chapters have looked at the relief and reconstruction phases. This chapter will return to the discourses of disasters and development but this time the focus will be on the policy rather than the academic discourse. The chapter will focus on the ‘last’ stage of the disaster cycle, which may also be read as the ‘first’ stage – preparation. It will explore the evolution in the disaster discourse to the present focus on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Despite the regularity with which they occur, disasters continue to be conceptualised as extraordinary events that break the established pro- cesses of ‘development’. However, more recently, there has been growing interest in ‘disaster proofing’ development. The notion of risk that has emerged as central to the disaster discourse has also become more central to the World Bank discourse around social protection and poverty alleviation. This chapter will focus on the global agreement that frames DRR – the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA). It will explore how the HFA relates to other global initiatives such as those addressing climate change as well as the global development framework – the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At the same time as there has been a move to disaster proof development there has been a move to ‘engender’ disasters. Drawing on experience of engendering development, this chapter will consider the extent to which processes of feminisation of disaster response

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