Vulnerability towards women and children become even worse at the time of disaster particularly natural disaster where they suffer most. Assess the reason behind such phenomenon and suggest steps needed to address this issue concerning the recommendation of 2nd ARC. (200 W)

Mentor’s Comment:

There is some information hidden in the first line of the question i.e. the women and children are the most vulnerable in society. Here the context is more about the people’s perception regarding women and discrimination and not disaster because disaster doesn’t discriminate, but people do. Here the introduction should mention about the vulnerability of women and children in the society which gets even worse in the time of disaster.

However, there are various reasons for their vulnerabilities which we need to mention in the main body like socio-cultural aspects, Economic aspects, Organizational/administrative aspects etc.

Further, the 2nd ARC has recommended special attention which should be applied during various stages of pre and post disaster. Like analyzing and reducing effects before it occurs, rescue operation during disaster, recovery phase during post disaster etc.

Next, conclude mentioning about political will, linkages, ready approach at times, gender sensitivity specially towards women etc.

 

Model Answer:

  • Disasters don’t discriminate, but people do. Existing socio-economic conditions mean that disasters can lead to different outcomes even for demographically similar communities but inevitably the most vulnerable groups suffer more than others. In most of the cases these vulnerable groups includes women, children, differentially abled, old persons etc.
  • This was evident during  the Tsunami  in  India where  in  Nagapattinam  district, 2406  women died as compared with 1883 men. There is also the risk of sexual violence and exploitation including trafficking in the aftermath of a disaster.

The possible reasons behind higher vulnerability include:

Socio-cultural Aspects:

  • Existing gender  disparities in  society,  which  includes  access  to  basic  human  rights, education and literacy levels, values, customs and ideological beliefs. Gender inequalities in these areas make many women more vulnerable to disasters, compare with men.
  • It is the women and children who suffer most psychologically because of loss they encounter.

Economic Aspects:

  • Limited access  to  assets  that  ranges  from  physical,  financial,  human,  social,  and  natural capital.
  • Poor social mobility, less economic opportunity hence more vulnerability.

 Organizational/Administrative Aspects:

  • These groups are less well targeted by public information and dissemination. The volunteers lack sensitive dealing approach towards their vulnerabilities.
  • Very less participation in decision-making.

Recommendations of 2nd ARC: special attention should be given during all the stages, which includes:

During pre-disaster phase:

  • The vulnerability analysis should bring out the specific vulnerabilities of women and these should be addressed in any mitigation effort.
  • Disaster mitigation plans should be prepared, in consultation with women’s groups.

During disaster:

  • Rescue and relief operations should focus on the most vulnerable groups.
  • Relief measures  should  take  into  account  the  special  requirements  of  women  and  other vulnerable groups.
  • Particular attention needs to be given to their physical and mental well being through health care and counseling.

During post-disaster or recovery phase:

  • Efforts should  focus  on  making  women  economically  independent  by  offering  them opportunities of earning incomes, providing training in new skills, forming self-help groups, providing micro-finance, marketing facilities etc.
  • Trauma counseling  and  psychological  care  should  be  provided  to  widows  and  women  and other persons in distress. These activities should form part of the disaster management plan.
  • Arrangements have to be made for orphaned children on a long-term basis.
  • NGOs should be encouraged to play a major role in their rehabilitation.

Further  increased  political  commitment,  improved  linkages  between  disaster  and  gender  perspective, improved data gathering, increasing awareness level, and mainstreaming gender perspective in capacity building can lead to better results.

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