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Natural disasters disproportionately affect women and children, especially in countries where women's socioeconomic status is low.Such ratios have been repeated in countless other disasters.The problem begins with the way in which disasters are reported in the media, with little attention to differences in the numbers of men and women affected.Although people in charge of managing recovery efforts may intuitively understand women's needs, post-disaster planning and response fails to account for differences in the needs and concerns of women and men.One recent example is the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which was adopted in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.One way is for community leaders and authorities to embrace the 20-point checklist developed by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, which identifies ways to make disaster planning more responsive to gender. The checklist also encourages the media to report on gender differences in disaster risk and vulnerability.Finally, communities and disaster management authorities everywhere should adopt gender-specific strategies in all stages of disaster planning and response; a recent report published by the United Nations Development Programme and UN Women could serve as a useful practical guide.
Action needed: Making ‘women’s work’ count
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