Beyond Binary: (Re)Defining “Gender” for 21st Century Disaster Risk Reduction Research, Policy and Practice

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This meta-analysis of existing literature on gender in DRR practice highlights a significant gap. In doing so, it recommends DRR researchers and practitioners to invest in research that moves beyond the gender binary.

This five-stage rapid meta-analysis of peer-reviewed journal articles was conducted to determine the extent to which DRR literature includes content relevant to more than two genders (i.e. beyond the woman/man binary).

This paper introduces the current status of gender and disaster scholarship, noting that gender and disaster scholarship emerged out of the recognition that women experience disasters differently than men. Gender is defined as a socially constructed process and differences often aligned with masculinity and femininity, their blended elements or the absence of one or both. Gender minority refers to a person whose gender identity does not exclusively align with masculine or feminine polarities. The authors note that the various acronyms used to refer to people with diverse genders (i.e. LGBTIQA+) were derived in western contexts and do not necessarily align with the experiences or identities of people outside of the western world.

The paper provides a brief explanation of the ways in which sexual orientation and gender can contribute to pre-disaster marginalisation before delving into DRR frameworks (Sendai and UNDRR) that do not include definitions of gender. The rapid review is then introduced: a rapid review was conducted to identify peer-reviewed journals published in English since the commencement of the Sendai framework (2015) to identify those with a disaster focus that included mention of gender beyond the binary. A list of key terms was developed (page 5) and deployed using Medline and Scopus databases. The initial search returned 728 results in total; after the first exclusion process, 315 remained. Full-text articles were reviewed and 55 were further excluded leaving 260 articles; of the 260 full-text articles meeting the selection criteria, only 12 included a definition of gender beyond the binary. The acronym LGB was grounds for exclusion as authors determined it pertained only to sexual orientation, while LGBT was included as it pertains to gender identity (transgender).

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"We recommend that disaster scholars and practitioners adopt correct terminology and expand their definition of gender beyond the binary; utilize work on gender fluidity and diversity; and apply this to disaster research, policy, and practice."

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This five-stage rapid meta-analysis of peer-reviewed journal articles was conducted to determine the extent to which DRR literature includes content relevant to more than two genders (i.e. beyond the woman/man binary).

This paper introduces the current status of gender and disaster scholarship, noting that gender and disaster scholarship emerged out of the recognition that women experience disasters differently than men. Gender is defined as a socially constructed process and differences often aligned with masculinity and femininity, their blended elements or the absence of one or both. Gender minority refers to a person whose gender identity does not exclusively align with masculine or feminine polarities. The authors note that the various acronyms used to refer to people with diverse genders (i.e. LGBTIQA+) were derived in western contexts and do not necessarily align with the experiences or identities of people outside of the western world.

The paper provides a brief explanation of the ways in which sexual orientation and gender can contribute to pre-disaster marginalisation before delving into DRR frameworks (Sendai and UNDRR) that do not include definitions of gender. The rapid review is then introduced: a rapid review was conducted to identify peer-reviewed journals published in English since the commencement of the Sendai framework (2015) to identify those with a disaster focus that included mention of gender beyond the binary. A list of key terms was developed (page 5) and deployed using Medline and Scopus databases. The initial search returned 728 results in total; after the first exclusion process, 315 remained. Full-text articles were reviewed and 55 were further excluded leaving 260 articles; of the 260 full-text articles meeting the selection criteria, only 12 included a definition of gender beyond the binary. The acronym LGB was grounds for exclusion as authors determined it pertained only to sexual orientation, while LGBT was included as it pertains to gender identity (transgender).