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