GENDER - by tyndale



The Tsunami has had different effects on women and on men, due to the strong gender-
based division of labour of productive and reproductive activities in the areas it struck.
Men have traditionally taken care of fishing and marketing, while women are responsible
for fish processing, small markets and home gardening. Understanding and measuring
these differences is essential for an effective response. An age- and sex-disaggregated
composition of the survivors as well as the constraints to rehabilitating the livelihood
options open to each of the genders will facilitate a sustainable response.

Coastal fishermen and farmers from poor fishing villages and small coastal towns of low
economic value were among the communities hit the hardest in the tsunami area. Land
and most probably the sweet water wells that provided water for drinking and irrigation
can not rapidly be returned to use for agriculture once they have been inundated by the
sea. Transition will be equally important for those living inland, whose houses and
families remain intact, but whose livelihoods were intimately linked with those destroyed
in the coastal zone. Small entrepreneurs who, for example, may have marketed dried fish
or provided specialized traditional equipment to coastal communities may face economic
devastation. Women who used to process fish may not have more fish to process.

Due to the household division of labour, women traditionally take care of the sick. Their
burden may have increased due to the high number of persons injured or become ill, as
epidemics develop. In addition, as they usually have the responsibility to fetch water,
they may need to increase the amount of time dedicated to collect both drinking water
and freshwater for agriculture crops.

In this context, women and men are taking on new roles and responsibilities to adapt to
the new socio-economic conditions they find themselves in, to secure their own and their
families’ survival. While many people may be able to return to fishing or farming
livelihoods, many others have both the need and the opportunity to shift. Even for those
who return to previous livelihoods, the structure of those livelihoods may need to change.
For example, farmers may need to shift from rice to salt tolerant crops; and fishermen
from traditional nets and boats to new equipment or perhaps fish farming. Over the
longer term, such shifts are essential to improving the livelihoods and reducing poverty in
an ever changing world. Capacity to make use of these opportunities should be built,
taking into consideration gender differences, as, for example regarding literacy levels and
technical skills.

In the aftermath of the tsunami, increased cases of rape and abuses against women and
children are being reported (Sri Lanka and Indonesia). Fear of sexual violence has been
reported to limit women’s and girls’ mobility, for example in search of new economic
opportunities. Likewise, this fear is behind their reluctance to moving into camps where
they could have access to food. Women and children are often the most vulnerable
because of their lower socio-economic standing, in terms of limited access to necessary
resources. They lack influence due to inequality and disempowerment, and have often
less decision-making power and control over their lives.

Lessons learned in natural disasters and armed conflicts reveal that interventions to save
lives and secure livelihoods are more efficient and effective when gender issues are
properly understood and addressed.

Short to mid -term interventions

    Brief and train emergency officers and partner staff in participatory and gender
     analysis tools to mainstreaming a gender perspective in emergency and
     rehabilitation interventions.

    Recruit women staff and volunteers for assessments and other responses to
     reach local women and insist on women’s full representation in community
     groups and meetings to ensure their participation in decision-making about relief.

    Involve informal women leaders and indigenous people with community and
     local knowledge in the planning, distribution, forwarding, receiving and benefit of
     project inputs.

    Get the facts right. Analyze the differential impacts and effects of the tsunami
     and the priority needs of men, women, children and the elderly in the overall
     assessment of the situation and of the people affected in coastal fishing and
     farming communities. Gather the perceptions of the target beneficiaries to assist
     decision-makers in the design and implementation of interventions for food
     security. This implies taking stock of the different resources men and women
     have left to secure their livelihood, food and non-food and care needs.

    Collect and solicit data disaggregated by sex and age for an accurate knowledge
     of the composition of the surviving families to ensure that the needs of the
     different groups are adequately addressed and targeted.

   Longer-term interventions

    Work with community organizations to understand what possibilities exist for
     income generating activities for women and men and what (social and personal)
     resources are needed to enable the survivors to build viable rural livelihoods. In
     addressing families’ long-term food security needs, assistance will be required by
     providing seeds, establishing gardens, rehabilitating small-scale agricultural
     production and refurbishing fisheries. Tap women’s and men’s knowledge about
     environmental resources and community activities.
 Raise awareness on gender issues among decision- and policy-makers to ensure
  that women’s and men’s different needs and realities are reflected in policies,
  practices and resource allocations, through the phases of relief, rehabilitation and

 Design programmes dedicated to women with the aim of achieving short and
  longer term socio-economic benefits. Assess and monitor the impacts over time.
  By empowering women, they will be better equipped to protect themselves from
  sexual violence. Promote, among partners, work with men to develop positive
  masculinity values that shun gender based violence.

 Support women’s groups and associations so that their needs can be heard and
  responded to in order to build viable rural livelihoods. This implies continuing to
  collaborate with other international agencies and local partners to provide direct
  assistance so that both women and men can equally benefit from general recovery
  and income generating programmes.

 Strengthen community networks by supporting existing organizations and by
  encouraging the creation of self-help groups, which are crucial for social and
  economic recovery.

 Organize capacity building for local committees to increase their capacity for
  mainstreaming gender concerns and for achieving self reliant and sustainable

 Provide credit and financial assets to both men and women according to their
  livelihoods needs to assist households and communities to rebuild shattered
  livelihoods in the tsunami affected areas.

Additional information on participatory tools for socio-economic and gender analysis
can be found in the Guidelines on Socio-economic and gender analysis in
emergency and rehabilitation programmes
( Key
questions for collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated data in emergency
situations can be found in the Passport to mainstreaming a gender perspective in
emergency programmes .

Additional documents are available in

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