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.

Conclusion – Drawing the links: gender, disasters and development

Sarah Bradshaw

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


This book has sought to draw links between the development and the disaster discourse and practice and explore what this means for ‘engendering’ disasters. While, in conceptual and theoretical terms, the development discourse appears to be more advanced than that of disasters, concepts quite new to development, such as vulnerability and risk, have a long tradition of discussion among disaster specialists. While the official development discourse, such as that presented by the World Bank, has more recently begun to treat the notion of risk as a central concern, it has not drawn on this disaster-related literature to inform its conceptualisation. Rather than help conceptualise the development discourse around risk, disasters are instead conceptualised as risk. The heightened awareness of the risk disasters pose to development arises from concerns over extreme weather hazards, said to be on the increase as a result of climate change. It also arises from an acceptance that disasters can ‘set back’ development, in particular pushing people back into poverty or leaving the poor destitute. With the creation of the HFA, the global disaster framework has recognised this link, and the formation of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) suggests recognition by key development actors such as the World Bank also. However, despite calls to ‘disaster proof’ development and the increasing commonalities of the development and disaster lexicons, ultimately, the two continue to be distinct policy and funding areas. The Millennium Development Goals highlight this separation. They also highlight how the relationship that does exist is constructed,

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