Women and children are 14 times more likely to die in a disaster (IUCN, 2014). The risk of violence increases and rape has become a weapon of war. Women also bear the heaviest burden of care in an emergency, such as in the current Rohingya crisis where there is a lack of clean water, medical care and medicine for their families.
Women in disaster and conflicts find the odds stacked against them, and this precarious situation is too often compounded by ineffective models of humanitarian response. Humanitarian response regularly excludes women from decision-making processes and fails to account for women’s specific needs and experiences in a disaster. The cumulative impact of this failure is catastrophic for women’s rights and reverberates long after the disaster is over and the community’s infrastructure has been rebuilt.
And yet, when disasters strike, women are the first to take action. Often putting their lives on the line to protect others, women are more likely to account for the needs of the whole community and to create lasting, sustainable change.
A crisis can be a catalytic moment. Investment in the right response can enable a disaster to transform poverty into dignity, vulnerability into security and inequality into equity.
– Michelle Higelin, Executive Director at ActionAid Australia
That’s why ActionAid has launched Arise to empower 1 million women across 15 countries over the next five years with the resources and networks they need to lead their communities in times of crisis. We know that when disaster strikes, a woman’s place is leading the charge to protect their communities and to transform women’s status in society long-term.
When a woman is supported to lead emergency response and recovery processes, she rebuilds more than buildings: she builds her resilience and that of others under her care, enabling communities to recover from shocks and stresses faster, and prepare for disasters before they occur.