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Making Women’s Voices Count: Integrating Gender Issues in Disaster Risk Management in East Asia and Pacific


Grounded in extensive field work in Lao PDR and Vietnam, the Infrastructure and Social Development teams in East Asia and Pacific have developed a series of five Guidance Notes on Integrating Gender Issues in Disaster Risk Management (DRM). The notes address key issues and bottlenecks, related to addressing gender issues into DRM projects, and are designed to help task teams design and implement gender dimensions into DRM work across the East Asia and Pacific Region.

A second phase of the program, funded by the AusAID Infrastructure for Growth Trust Fund, will pilot the recommendations in select countries across the region. Starting in January 2012, the program will focus on three areas:

  • Strategic support to Bank teams to include gender in disaster risk management investment programs
  • Country-level policy analysis of the existing legislation and the Bank’s portfolio to determine action points; and
  • Capacity building for Bank staff, government counterparts, and development partners


The East Asia region is highly prone to the impacts of natural disasters. Situated in the Ring of Fire, countries in the region are regularly hit by typhoons, earthquakes, floods, and other events. Natural disasters can have major impacts on the social and economic welfare of a population, and often pose serious obstacles in the achievement of sustainable social and economic development. Moreover, impacts from disasters are not uniformly distributed within a population and tend to disproportionately affect the poorest and most marginalized groups.

Women are at a particular risk. Women often experience higher rates of mortality, morbidity and post-disaster diminishment in their livelihoods. Several underlying factors exacerbate women’s vulnerability to the impacts of disasters, such as lack of means to recoup lost assets, limited livelihood options, restricted access to education and basic services, and in many cases, also socio-cultural norm.


There are costs in ignoring gender aspects in disaster recovery and risk management strategies. Failure to consider gender in Disaster Risk Management programs is likely to lead to overlooking the full range of damages and needs, which can hinder reconstruction, recovery and long-term development of countries that repeatedly suffer from disaster impacts, and also make DRM effort less effective. Research indicates that a gender-blind response to natural disasters can reinforce, perpetuate and increase existing gender inequality, making bad situations worse for women. Some of the key findings from the field work include:

  • Women face entrenched societal barriers to participation.
  • While the regulatory and policy framework for gender equality is growing stronger, significant gaps between law and practice remain.
  • DRM programs suffer from ad hoc integration of gender.
  • Difficulties in incorporating gender concerns during actual implementation of program activities.


Women can make a difference in disaster risk management (DRM) efforts through participation and empowerment in the planning, decision-making and implementation processes. There are many actions that can be taken to mainstream Gender issues into DRM. These include for example:

  • Ensure both men and women are involved in DRM planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes.
  • For DRM consultation and planning exercises, organize separate consultations with women and men, at convenient times for women and men.
  • Facilitate change by improving information, awareness and participation. Identify a gender champion and train more women leaders to institutionalize gender-equal project planning, implementation and monitoring initiatives.
  • Develop and implement a gender strategy and action plan for the project with indicators and monitoring tools.
  • Make collection of sex-disaggregated data a requirement at the policy level and ensure sex-disaggregated data are collected both in the pre- and post-disaster situation. Include women’s groups, if they exist, and women in communities in data collection and data analysis.
  • Work closely with the government, other stakeholders and development partners to be inclusive in their approach to recovery and reconstruction.
  • Facilitate the economic recovery of men and women. Identify gender specific recovery needs, especially with respect to housing, land / property rights; and physical / mental health, and engage women in all recovery activities.
Making Women’s Voices Count: Integrating Gender Issues in Disaster Risk Management in East Asia and Pacific

Overview and Resource: Integratisong Gender Issues in Disaster Risk

Making Women’s Voices Count - Addressing Gender Issues in Disaster Risk Management in East Asia & Pacific

Gender sensitive post disaster assessments

Making livelihoods and social protection gender-sensitive

Integrating gender-sensitive disaster risk management into community-driven development programs

Integrating Gender Issues in Disaster Risk Management Policy Development and in Projects.

Gender Informed Monitoring and Evaluation in Disaster Risk Management

Integrating Gender Issues in Community-based Disaster Risk Management

Integrating Gender Issues in Recovery and Reconstruction Planning

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