Chapter 8: Gender, disasters and international law
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Every year, disasters kill, injure and displace millions of people around the world, causing extensive property damage and incurring considerable economic costs. While disasters are often assumed to be ‘natural’, disasters and the response to them are beginning to be regarded as not just a misfortune but potentially an injustice for which government authorities or private actors can potentially be held responsible. Disasters do not affect everyone equally and gender-related injustice is apparent in preparation for, during, and in the response to, disasters. This chapter aims to analyse international law and disasters through a gender lens by asking two questions: where are the women? and what work is gender doing here? Drawing on studies of gender and disaster in sociology and human geography, the chapter analyses international law on gender in disaster response and risk reduction. It concludes that women are sometimes invisible in discussions of international law and disasters, while at other times they are foregrounded to the extent that they block other genders from view. The question of what work gender is doing in international law and disasters is more complex and requires context-specific analysis.

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