Women’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in Nepal quake re­lief


On April 25, life changed for all of us who live, love or are re­lated in any way to Nepal; but es­pe­cially for the fam­ily mem­bers and loved ones of more than 8,800 peo­ple who per­ished, for those who were in­jured and for the hun­dreds of thou­sands who lost their homes and sources of liveli­hood.

The 7.8 mag­ni­tude earth­quake left 2.8 mil­lion peo­ple in need of ur­gent hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and bil­lions of dol­lars in dam­ages and loses.

The earth­quake im­pacted ev­ery­one, but poverty, ex­clu­sion, dis­crim­i­na­tion and wide­spread in­equal­i­ties were crit­i­cal fac­tors that de­fined who died and how the sur­vivors are deal­ing with and re­spond­ing to the dis­as­ter.

Tar­get the weak­est

Along with chil­dren, se­nior cit­i­zens, peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­ity, caste-based and eth­nic mi­nori­ties, women — who rep­re­sent 51 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion of Nepal — have been the most ad­versely af­fected.

Of these groups, women con­sti­tute the sin­gle largest: 55 per­cent of the earth­quake ca­su­al­ties were women and 26 per­cent of the dam­aged houses were fe­male-headed house­holds.

Women who tend to oc­cupy lessskilled and in­for­mal jobs in the heav­ily im­pacted tourism sec­tor will be more likely to lose their jobs un­til the econ­omy re­boots.

In agri­cul­ture, another sec­tor need­ing sig­nif­i­cant sup­port, women make up over 60 per­cent of the la­bor force.

The gov­ern­ment of Nepal has rat­i­fied sev­eral in­ter­na­tional in­stru­ments on gen­der equal­ity and women’s rights, in­clud­ing the U.N. Con­ven­tion on the Elim­i­na­tion of All Forms of Dis­crim­i­na­tion Against Women ( CEDAW), and has fi­nan­cially trans­lated its com­mit­ments into ac­tion by adopt­ing a Gen­der Re­spon­sive Bud­get­ing sys­tem (GRB) since 2007-08.

The pro­por­tion of the bud­get di­rectly con­tribut­ing to gen­der equal­ity has in­creased from about 11 per­cent in 2007-08 to al­most 22 per­cent in 2014-15.

Women, crit­i­cal part­ners

Emer­gen­cies should not be the ex­cep­tion to this progress. Gen­der sen­si­tiv­ity and gen­der-based plan­ning, bud­get­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion should be present in all re­cov­ery and re­con­struc­tion pro­cesses for Nepal.

Women are crit­i­cal part­ners for suc­cess, and they have the right to par­tic­i­pate in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing on how and where re­sources should be al­lo­cated.

More­over, women and other dis­ad­van­taged groups must be at the cen­ter of the im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Women not only have use­ful skills and knowl­edge to con­trib­ute, but also rel­e­vant so­cial in­for­ma­tion about their com­mu­ni­ties.

Women know and un­der­stand their fam­ily’s needs, they know their neigh­bors’ chil­dren and fre­quently have a strong and ex­tended so­cial net­work.

Their con­tri­bu­tions can strengthen the col­lec­tive re­silience to fu­ture shocks and dis­as­ters.

They de­serve equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to play an ac­tive role in de­sign­ing the fu­ture of their com­mu­ni­ties.

In­clu­sive PDNA

These fac­tors should be on the minds of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives from gov­ern­ments and in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions who will gather this week at the donor con­fer­ence in Kathmandu.

The Post-Dis­as­ter Needs As­sess­ment (PDNA) — Nepal’s as­sess­ment of the im­pact of the earth­quake and ma­jor af­ter­shocks — rec­og­nizes the im­por­tance of a gen­der per­spec­tive, ded­i­cat­ing a stand-alone chap­ter to gen­der equal­ity and so­cial in­clu­sion, as well as a trans­ver­sal ap­proach across all sec­tors of the re­cov­ery.

The PDNA fur­ther rec­og­nizes that view­ing women and cer­tain so­cial groups who have been dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected sim­ply as vic­tims only ex­ac­er­bates their vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

It ac­knowl­edges that the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of dis­crim­i­nated so­cial groups by all re­cov­ery pro­grams is not only es­sen­tial to en­sure they ben­e­fit equally from the re­cov­ery pro­grams, but also to en­sure that they are not fur­ther marginal­ized.

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