Why gender does not stick: Exploring conceptual logics in global disaster risk reduction policy


Social inequalities have consequences for the everyday lives of women and girls where power relations, institutional and socio-cultural practices make them disadvantaged in terms of disaster preparedness and experience.

Chapters in the book Climate Hazards, Disasters, and Gender Ramifications unravel how gender and masculinity intersect with age, ethnicity, sexuality and class in specific contexts around the globe. It looks at the various kinds of difficulties for particular groups before, during and after disastrous events such as typhoons, flooding, landslides and earthquakes. It explores how issues of gender hierarchies, patriarchal structures and masculinity are closely related to gender segregation, institutional codes of behaviour and to a denial of environmental crisis. This book stresses the need for a gender-responsive framework that can provide a more holistic understanding of disasters and climate change. A critical feminist perspective uncovers the gendered politics of disaster and climate change.

This book focuses on the challenges of living with climate disasters, in addition to the existing gender inequalities that prevail and define social, economic and political conditions.

Two CNDS fellows contributed to this book:

  • Sara Bondesson, "Why Gender Does Not Stick: Exploring Conceptual Logics in Global Disaster Risk Reduction Policy." Abstract: This chapter provides an analysis of the Sendai Framework for action; the central policy document in the global field of Disaster risk reduction (DRR). It identifies two conceptual logics in the Framework that prevent full incorporation of a gender perspective. Firstly, relief logic assumes a temporality of acuteness and prescribes male-dominated professional domains as experts. Secondly, a techno-managerial logic proposes technical and managerial solutions to problems of disaster risk. DRR is a global field of policy planning and practice that involves systematic efforts to analyse and reduce the causal factors of disasters. A gender, age, disability and cultural perspective should be integrated in all policies and practices, and women and youth leadership should be promoted”. A gender perspective needs to move beyond a mere focus on the number of women in DRR decision-making positions. A gender perspective highlights how gender roles are produced through social institutions that shape norms of behaviour, as well as access to rights and power.
  • Claudia Merli, "Gendered and Ungendered Bodies in the Tsunami: Experiences and Ontological Vulnerability in Southern Thailand."  Abstract: This chapter focuses on the embodied experiences of women and men during and in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It explores ethnographic material collected in Thailand’s southernmost western province from December 2004 to March 2005 and on subsequent returns to the field to analyse how people lived the catastrophe through theirs and others’ bodies. The 2004 tsunami put the Global North into a shared vulnerability in a natural disaster rarely envisioned in a technocratic society. A different and more intimate relation between fish and human bodies turned out to impact the aftermath of the tsunami via a tangible fear of unintentional anthropophagy. The chapter considers perspectivistic analyses very significant for reflecting on the endangered definition of subjectivity, objectivity and personhood of the post-tsunami’s potential fish eaters. Gendered bodies as sexually active bodies were mentioned as a remote cause of the tsunami in religious interpretations that attributed the triggering of the disaster to unbridled sexuality and moral corruption.

Read more about the book Climate Hazards, Disasters, and Gender Ramifications here.