Issues of Gender and Sexual Orientation in Humanitarian Emergencies: Risks and Risk Reduction

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This book is relevant for humanitarian practitioners as it highlights the differing challenges faced by people due to their gender or sexual orientation during humanitarian crises. The book provides insights on how to better implement risk reduction and disaster relief initiatives that address the needs of sexual and gender minorities.

This edited book includes seven chapters which examine how gender and sexual orientation impact people’s experiences in humanitarian emergencies. The book argues that the humanitarian sector must understand the particular needs of women and LGBTI people and take their needs into account in the development and implementation of humanitarian initiatives. The book demonstrates through examples from crises across the globe that this approach is necessary to prevent the abuse and marginalisation of women and LGBTI people. Each chapter addresses this challenge from a different angle.

Chapter one examines how gender influences the risks faced by youth in humanitarian disaster settings. The chapter looks at the current literature and provides recommendations related to preparedness, disaster response and recovery from the perspective of gender in family structures and economic inequality.

Chapter two presents research conducted on social network structures and gendered-wellbeing in disaster and relocation settings. The research is informed by interviews conducted in Ecuador and Mexico following natural disasters.

Chapter three provides a detailed account of the challenges faced by people of diverse gender and sexual orientation in humanitarian emergencies. The chapter outlines how stigma and marginalisation faced by LGBTI people prior to disaster is exacerbated in post-disaster scenarios, particularly when humanitarian response initiatives are not sensitive to the particular needs of LGBTI people. The chapter focuses on challenges in temporary shelters, refugee camps, sanitation facilities, and centralised distribution areas of food, information and health services. Structural issues relating to documentation, loss of support networks and informal economies are highlighted as unique obstacles for LGBTI people. The chapter offers detailed case studies and provides recommendations for how emergency programmes can be more sensitive to the needs of LGBTI people.

Chapter four discusses how the increased vulnerabilities and unequal power relations that women face, in comparison to men, prior to disasters shape their different roles, responsibilities and experiences after disasters. The chapter considers how gender theory can be used to create a “gender-hazard disaster framework” that could improve planning and preparedness by predicting gendered outcomes following disasters.

Chapter five looks at both quantitative and qualitative data from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA on women’s experiences of domestic violence during and after natural disasters.The literature review highlights how domestic violence increased in the developed nations studied in the aftermath of natural disasters. The chapter also outlines the current gaps in the research literature. Chapter five provides context for chapters six and seven.

Chapter six and seven present findings from research undertaken at the University of New South Wales in Australia on domestic violence in the aftermath of natural disasters. Chapter six focuses on disaster relief workers’ accounts of their clients’ experiences in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi in Queensland in 2011. Chapter seven focuses on the experiences of relief workers and the organisations that provided domestic violence related services following the disaster. Chapter seven also highlights implications of the research and offers recommendations for service providers to address women’s vulnerability to domestic violence in disaster settings.

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“Disasters have different impacts on individuals, depending on their gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, membership in a minority racial or cultural group, economic well-being, etc. It is important that relief efforts take into account these differences”

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This edited book includes seven chapters which examine how gender and sexual orientation impact people’s experiences in humanitarian emergencies. The book argues that the humanitarian sector must understand the particular needs of women and LGBTI people and take their needs into account in the development and implementation of humanitarian initiatives. The book demonstrates through examples from crises across the globe that this approach is necessary to prevent the abuse and marginalisation of women and LGBTI people. Each chapter addresses this challenge from a different angle.

Chapter one examines how gender influences the risks faced by youth in humanitarian disaster settings. The chapter looks at the current literature and provides recommendations related to preparedness, disaster response and recovery from the perspective of gender in family structures and economic inequality.

Chapter two presents research conducted on social network structures and gendered-wellbeing in disaster and relocation settings. The research is informed by interviews conducted in Ecuador and Mexico following natural disasters.

Chapter three provides a detailed account of the challenges faced by people of diverse gender and sexual orientation in humanitarian emergencies. The chapter outlines how stigma and marginalisation faced by LGBTI people prior to disaster is exacerbated in post-disaster scenarios, particularly when humanitarian response initiatives are not sensitive to the particular needs of LGBTI people. The chapter focuses on challenges in temporary shelters, refugee camps, sanitation facilities, and centralised distribution areas of food, information and health services. Structural issues relating to documentation, loss of support networks and informal economies are highlighted as unique obstacles for LGBTI people. The chapter offers detailed case studies and provides recommendations for how emergency programmes can be more sensitive to the needs of LGBTI people.

Chapter four discusses how the increased vulnerabilities and unequal power relations that women face, in comparison to men, prior to disasters shape their different roles, responsibilities and experiences after disasters. The chapter considers how gender theory can be used to create a “gender-hazard disaster framework” that could improve planning and preparedness by predicting gendered outcomes following disasters.

Chapter five looks at both quantitative and qualitative data from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA on women’s experiences of domestic violence during and after natural disasters.The literature review highlights how domestic violence increased in the developed nations studied in the aftermath of natural disasters. The chapter also outlines the current gaps in the research literature. Chapter five provides context for chapters six and seven.

Chapter six and seven present findings from research undertaken at the University of New South Wales in Australia on domestic violence in the aftermath of natural disasters. Chapter six focuses on disaster relief workers’ accounts of their clients’ experiences in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi in Queensland in 2011. Chapter seven focuses on the experiences of relief workers and the organisations that provided domestic violence related services following the disaster. Chapter seven also highlights implications of the research and offers recommendations for service providers to address women’s vulnerability to domestic violence in disaster settings.