Gender and Disaster Resilience in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region
The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region is extremely vulnerable and prone to various types of disasters that cause widespread damage to the life and properties. Past experience indicates that women and children are the most vulnerable to disasters mainly due to deeply rooted traditional social norms, gender roles, and gender differential access to and control over information and resources that enable them to prepare for and cope with disasters. Women are typically more vulnerable than men to the effects of natural disasters and climate change, not only because of biological and physiological differences, but also, notably, because of socioeconomic differences and inequitable power relations. To have disaster resilience communities, the participation of both men and women at various levels is essential. Inequalities that exist in society are often strengthened during disaster, and this must be kept in mind when collecting data, analyzing and formulating disaster resilience plans and activities. In this context, this paper provides an overview of gender differential impacts and vulnerabilities of climate change in the HKH region. Using a select case stories and literature review, the chapter highlights gender differential vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change and resilience and different adaptation approaches in the high mountains, middle hills and river basins of the HKH region. This chapter looks at the gender, social and cultural dimensions of resilience. While analyzing the role played by women in various facets of disaster risk management, this paper also provides guidelines and framework for strengthening gender equal role and access to decision making in disaster risk management at various levels in the HKH region. Documenting such knowledge and good practices would ultimately help further to disseminate, targeting to planners, policy makers, development practitioners, and other key stakeholders working in HKH region and beyond.