chapter  10
Disaster through a gender lens: a case study from Haiti
Pages 17

Recent years have brought an unprecedented loss of lives and livelihoods in natural disasters that are the product of complex interactions of hazards, vulnerabilities and resilience (Anderson 1994; Manyena 2012). Social science scholarship increasingly recognizes these disasters not simply as exceptional, uncontrollable natural events, but also as closely linked to human choices and actions (Enarson and Meyreles 2004; Hyndman and de Alwis 2003; Luft 2009; Wisner et al. 2003). In particular, pre-existing social norms, roles and inequalities shape the degree to which individuals and groups are vulnerable to disasters, as well as their capacities and opportunities to recover. However, until recently, a gender-blind perspective dominated disaster research and practices: the male experience of disasters was taken as universally representative (Always and Smith 1998; Enarson and Phillips 2008; Fordham 1998). Gender inequalities and differences were largely overlooked, despite data showing a disproportionate number of female deaths in disasters and a hampering of women’s ability to rebuild after the event (Neumeyer and Plümper 2007). Scholarly and activist work on gender and disasters laid a rich groundwork to challenge these biases.