EM Forum Presentation — April 25, 2012

Women Building Disaster Resilience
New Resources and Strategies

Elaine Enarson, Ph.D.
Founding Member, Gender and Disaster Network

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

This transcript contains references to slides which can be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/gender/Enarson.pdf
A video recording of the live session is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm120425.wmv
An audio podcast is available at

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to EMForum.org. We are very glad you could join us today. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Moderator.

Today we are going to hear about how gender shapes disaster vulnerability and resilience, including highlights of the new book, Women Confronting Natural Disaster: From Vulnerability to Resilience and some other resources. Please note that there are links to several handouts on today’s Background Page, as well as from where you logged in.

First, for the benefit our newcomers, we will begin with an overview presentation, and then we are going to try out a few poll questions before we proceed to your questions and comments.

We are making a recording which should be available later this afternoon along with a copy of today’s slides. We will continue to publish those recordings in the manner we have in the past. The text transcript will be posted early next week. If you are not on our mailing list, you can subscribe from our home page, and then you will get a notice when these materials are ready, and future programs.

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure welcome back Dr. Elaine Enarson who has done a number of programs with us before that you can access from our archives. Elaine was lead course developer of a FEMA course on social vulnerability, and has written a number of gender mainstreaming manuals and planning guides for emergency managers and community organizations. Elaine was a founding member of the global Gender and Disaster Network and initiated the US-based Gender and Disaster Resilience Alliance. Links to both of those efforts may be found on today’s Background Page as well as further biographical detail.

Welcome back Elaine, and thank you very much for joining us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


Elaine Enarson: Thank you so much. Amy and Avagene—I know you’re out there too some place—I have to begin by saying how great this EM Forum has been. What a contribution it has made! I am saying that as a disaster person and also as a presenter—it is a wonderful resource. I am sure everyone here agrees.

Thank you everyone for taking time away from a busy schedule today. It is beautiful outside where I am so I am particularly grateful for that. We don’t have much time and I am wishing we could be around a round table with some coffee, but we are not. Please feel free to get in touch later because these are really complex issues. I’ll be doing a quick run-through. There is a lot of say and think about.

A warm welcome to everybody and I’m delighted I recognize a few names but not all the names. It is an opportunity to meet with some of you for the first time.

[Slide 2]

Let me tell you about what I’d like to do. You see it in front of you—just a quick review of new resources we have, a look back and a look forward. I’m going to be focusing particularly on a recent book I did for reasons I’ll explain in a moment.

[Slide 3]

It is a growing field. I don’t know about you but I have a bookcase of gender and disaster that is pretty heavy now and it has a number of new texts. I want to begin by letting you know there is a lot more coming. Whenever you write a book or you try to do a synthesis of what is out there you know it is just the tip of the iceberg and that is how I’m feeling in putting together this material.

There is a lot more coming, as I said. A few things you see on this screen—a new book coming from Canada that I think is going to be quite interesting to people in the States as well on different kinds of masculinities. My colleague and good friend Emmanuel David with whom I edited The Women of Katrina is going to be bringing out his own book that is focusing on the elite women of this storm and their role in Katrina.

There are a number of books coming from this conference in Turkey. There is a new conference coming up in Bogota. Perhaps there will be more writing coming from that.

[Slide 4]

It is a growing field. This book, I’m happy to say is finally come out. You begin a project and you think it will take about a year—triple that. It took quite a long time. Emmanuel and I were really concerned that the discussion around Katrina at the policy level and in research and certainly at government levels was not reflecting the importance of gender.

It wasn’t even talking about women and men as gendered people. In the interest of focusing on race, class, age and disability—which of course is very important, but this is also an event that touched us as women, men, boys and girls.

[Slide 5]

We were able to pull together this book. Here is a little bit about it. It is out in paperback. Bill Anderson was kind enough to write a foreword and we talked about us as non-residents of New Orleans and how that situated us as researchers. We tried to put this Katrina experience and this literature into context by doing a brief overview of gender in disaster literature.

Because we wanted to make the point that women were writing about gender from the get-go after Katrina we begin with a section about protests, letters to the editor and short statements like that. Then we moved on to first-person testimonials from volunteers and from women who were caught up directly themselves in this event.

We have two larger sections—here is where you will see the empirical research. It is a wonderful range. I am such a fan of this book and I hope some of you have seen it already.

It is a range of work ranging from the quality of analysis by the CDC of the impact of pregnancy on low-income African-American women in the New Orleans area and their decisions around evacuation—two very qualitative pieces, one of them by Chris Peterson who is in New Orleans with women of the bayou and the way they integrated faith and the significance of place and land in how they responded and coped with this event.

Work that is path-breaking around women with disabilities writing about what happened to them—a little insight into groups we don’t often think about—Jewish women are represented here, women who are Latinas who were working construction. I hope you’ll find a little something for everybody.

At the end we brought together some of the major writers of the field. You’ll know the work of Kathleen Tierney and she situated this analysis within the disaster sociology field as whole. And Brenda Phillips who just really moved us so forward in her work—and always drives home the point that the reason we do this research is to have an influence on practice and policy—wrote us a really wonderful article bringing together the policy implications of this work. If you haven’t seen The Women of Katrina I hope you will. I hope you find it useful and please be in touch with us.

[Slide 6]

I would say the same thing about this book. It is a book that I wrote—a labor of love and it has finally come out. There is a discounted ordering form attached to this presentation so please go there. Don’t go to the internet because that will be a lot more expensive. Unless it becomes wildly popular it will stay a hardback only.

[Slide 7]

These are some of the chapters of this book. I would like to use this to structure my conversation with you all this morning. We’ll do a quick walkthrough to give you a flavor of the issues as I see them right now looking back after twenty years of research.

[Slide 8]

I began by writing a very short preface about why I wrote this book. I’ll just tell you briefly. I was on the airplane going to Sri Lanka right after the tsunami when Katrina happened and I just felt so powerless and fundamentally at odds with my own country that I wanted to come back and try to make a difference in some way.

I’ve done quite a bit of work now around research in the United States but not as much practical work as I would like to do. I do a fair amount of consulting internationally but we need to bring these issues home.

That was the genesis of the book. It is focusing on the U.S. for reasons I just stated. It highlights women because this is where the empirical data are at this point in time. I am one of the people who have always called for more work on men and masculinity but we don’t have it yet. This is a synthesis of the existing literature and it is predominantly about women.

It is natural because the publisher really wanted that word in there and I was not able to succeed in changing their mind. I don’t restrict my analysis to so-called natural disasters. The focus is on resilience because that is such a powerful concept in youth right now. I am a little bit critical of how it is used sometimes and I don’t mean to imply in the title that there is a continuum—that we go from vulnerability all the way to resilience—we are everything at once as you know from your own work.

[Slide 9]

It begins with a chapter that puts into context this work in the larger literature and helps walk people through and acknowledges the many many people who have contributed to this field along the way.

[Slide 10]

The second chapter then launches into something I really enjoy talking about—how people in the larger world outside of the emergency management field and outside of the classroom think about disasters. That is perhaps the most important place for us to be and make a case about the significance of gender and disaster and bring these issues up.

All it takes is a short discussion with students or anybody on the street about disaster films and you go very quickly to race, class and gender. There is a lot to say there and I had some fun in this chapter pulling this together—plus some things that came from the Titanic as well.

I think the importance of popular culture is that it provides people a chance to tell their own stories which sometimes can test perceived wisdom and certainly represent different people’s perspectives. One of the things I did—you see this picture from events around the Vagina Monologues, the presentations they did in New Orleans after Katrina, integrating some of women’s stories around violence into their representation.

Those of you who have read a little of my other work, you know that I love women’s quilting. I think it is a very powerful medium. It has always been historically for American women so I talk about the significance of women’s quilts there. If you are interested in that please check out that chapter because I think it contextualizes the work.

[Slide 11]

Why does that matter? I have already spoken to that. We do need more intellectual work around women and men use social media in different ways and use graphic arts, fabric arts, different forms or different voices if you will. I think it is a very powerful tool for us.

[Slide 12]

Let me move on to the next chapter which is again a kind of an introductory chapter. It is theoretical. We often here that in disaster work that it is not theoretical enough and I would agree with that. It is very important because theory helps shine the spotlight, does it not?

It is a predictive, explanatory rubric or mechanism that helps us anticipate problems and issues and helps us make priorities, and if you will, to borrow Dynes and Rodriguez’s language around Katrina—helps us "find and frame". Here I situate the sociology of gender within the sociology disaster and try to make some connections there, like before in an article with Brenda Phillips when we looked at theory and method as well.

Here I wanted to represent to those people who haven’t had a chance to study much feminist theory—it’s an area I started with as a graduate student—the different strand, or braid if you will, a braid of thinking historically around gender and gender relations in this universe of ours.

There is a multiplicity of ways of thinking about women and men—the relationships between and among women, between and among men—gender is not about women only. I make a case in this chapter for how each one of these kinds of lenses offers something a little bit different to emergency management—different lines of action emerge from those perspectives.

[Slide 13]

I think it’s important for the reasons that I said. We do need, I believe, to move toward a more grounded, environmentally-focused perspective on gender and disaster. Here I think it’s a great opportunity to work around climate change in particular, not only because it is such an important driver but because it is a way of grounding in place all the literature around disaster and emergency management come again and again to this notion of place.

Too much of our thinking around gender and disaster has been too abstract. I would include myself among the people who haven’t sufficiently taken that on board. I think also as we move on theoretically we need to connect with other people who are thinking around sustainability issues and certainly around the men and women who are writing more about masculinities, in the plural, as a dynamic force that needs to be and can be an important part of this dialog.

Theory is important. I know it is sometimes a hard take but I’d love to talk to you more if you are interested.

[Slide 14]

A little bit more on a practical base then is this fourth chapter where I tackle this question of vulnerability and capacity. Making the case, of course, that we need to understand both capacities and both resources that people bring—the life experiences that women and men differently bring —their assets, their strengths, their networks—it’s such a large and undeveloped field there as well as a way for getting a better handle on what we mean by vulnerability.

We begin the chapter with a discussion of some of the familiar based patterns of gender-based vulnerability, focusing on women—women’s poverty, women single head of household, women as disproportionately represented among renters.

Most of the chapters focus on different approaches. I really think we rely overly much on quantitative measures of vulnerability so I think it incumbent on us as emergency managers to— as part of this know your community and know the whole community—to build those relationships and find out the stories behind the numbers rather than rely on overlays on maps that rely on census data.

However, being a realist and pragmatist as well, I know that is often what we do. I have written quite a bit about some cautionary notes, how you might look at a woman I’ve shown here for example, a single mother at the bottom and a woman with a disability at the top, you might look at that and see that as a vulnerability and map it on an overlay over proximity to a nuclear power plant or to a flood plain, but it doesn’t get us very far does it?

We don’t know the story. We don’t know if the woman on the top leads a major social service agency that is already well in touch with emergency managers and is essentially involved in bringing resources to the disabled community and to the poor. We don’t know if the single mother is living in a large extended family or if she’s alone. We don’t know if she is English-speaking or not, and we don’t know her income level.

Unless we can begin to get the story behind the story we really can’t say much of value. We stop a little bit too short. I put that idea in this chapter to talk about some other data we under-utilize—for example the proportion of women who are heading families alone with young children who are renters. Those are numbers that might be more valuable. We could put these things together so it is a cautionary note on how we think about vulnerability.

[Slide 15]

I think I’ve spoken to most of these things. I do think that risk-mapping when it engages communities and when it engages women, is much more meaningful in the long run. Again, emergency managers don’t have a lot of time to get it wrong.

While it might be faster on the one hand to do a short social risk-mapping, to engage the communities and engage the women’s and men’s organizations that understand where women’s strengths and weaknesses lie, our capacities, resources and vulnerabilities lie—it gets us a lot further in the end.

Under this section of "needed" when you are using government supported data by tax dollars it is incumbent upon us to get the whole story. I am a firm believer that there should be a standard in all disaster research and that specific data be provided. It may not be at the top of your research agenda but others will want to know.

Of course we need to get more and better gender indicators that speak to men and boys. I think if we get it right for women we’ll get it right for men as well.

[Slide 16]

The next section of the book, five chapters here, look at particular issues that have emerged from this field. This is a compilation or synthesis of the existing literature. It is not the body of knowledge I wish we had but it is what we have now. It is quite extensive in some ways in that other nations do not know as much as United States about disasters.

Other nations, in my view, are using what they do know more effectively. We are not there yet. That is partly why I wrote the book as well—to bring together these issues and from there begin to launch a conversation, a more empirically grounded discussion around what we might be able to do about it to build a stronger and safer nation.

So five chapters the first chapter on health and well-being pretty much wrote itself. This is where most of the literature lies. This is where we can parse out sex, the physiology of sex, the physiology of reproductive health from gender, the gender division of labor, the gender power relationship that exists within families and relationships between women and men in different contexts relative to race, class, age and different power dynamics.

This is one of the areas that is most widely researched—almost less often from a disaster position than from a health position, if you take my meaning. Most people that come to this area don’t come as disaster specialists. They come with interest in maternal health, for example.

It is a wonderful example of how we can work together—we being students of disaster with other allied fields of people who have research skills, practical tools and connections in the community, policy framework that we can begin to integrate this work. As you see these are the main topics I took a look at.

There is a plethora of knowledge around the implications of stress, for example, on maternal and infant health. It is not always in one direction—it is a little bit of a complicated story but it is an important one. The area that is most well studied and most well documented is that women report more symptoms of post traumatic stress and negative mental health effects of one kind or another.

That leaves questions about why, how long it will last, and whether that is a reflection of women’s capacity to speak about that or whether it is a reflection about some more deeply embedded issues—we don’t know. There is a lot we don’t know.

[Slide 17]

It is important of course because these are life and safety issues for this generation and the next and because of the kinds of responses and interventions that we make—unless they are gender responsive or gender sensitive we will simply miss the mark. We won’t be able to help women, men, boys or girls.

We won’t be able to intervene in situations to make midwifery available for example or to provide better reproductive care so that every child is a wanted child after disasters as well as before disasters.

Some of the things we need obviously, are to develop capacity in women’s health services especially at the community level because so many women, particularly poor women, women who are isolated, women who are non-English speaking will rely on a local clinic or an informal network of women’s health providers.

These are our natural allies in emergency management. We need to reach out and connect with them. As you see listed I have many research questions on my mind but we really do need to focus more on the implications of disasters for men’s reproductive health.

We also need to look when we do have sex specific data on post traumatic mental health it is often around men in response roles. I would like to see more work on the broader population of men.

[Slide 18]

Violence against women is another chapter I thought was important to include in this book because in the United States it doesn’t get the attention it has received elsewhere.

There is a broad and growing database that indicates that when you ask the question—we don’t always ask the question—and you ask the question of service agencies, which is how we are currently measuring rises or potential increases in sexual domestic violence you will find that for the most part services agencies report increase in demand and diminished capacity to respond.

That is the contradiction we have to address. For this chapter I have a critical discussion of the database. It needs improvement. We need to take it seriously. It is a significant public health issue. I walk through this chapter looking at the data from Exxon-Valdez to Katrina and Rita and take a close look at some of the explanations.

It is not as simple as saying that it is a question of stress alone. If that were the case it would be rampant. There are choices that people are making all the time about how to cope with stresses they have. Here we need to learn from and connect with our allies in the domestic violence movement who can help us better understand how important control and power issues are around violence.

[Slide 19]

This is a public health issue. It manifestly discourages women, and my focus here is on women, on reaching out, using existing resources, being visible to authorities, even accessing shelters or reaching out to FEMA or acknowledging issues to Red Cross. When we put together out protocols for shelter workers we need to be able to ask first off "Are you safe? Do you feel safe?"

When they have a screening question we need to find safe places for people to be—women and men. We need community partnerships so that when our shelters and resources are not suited to women that live with fear and violence there are other avenues we can provide for them.

I have listed a number of other recent issues. A major gap in our knowledge is around men and violence and around the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. That is a plural group of women and men who are so often overlooked in many ways.

We need to look at trafficking as well here. We need to look at domestic violence as an issue in the lives of older women and of women who live with disabilities, women who live in different faith communities. There is a lot to be learned around this. The more we learn the more we can begin to mitigate, plan for and anticipate because this is one of the effects we find repeatedly.

[Slide 20]

Let me move ahead a little more quickly to a chapter on family. There is a fair amount of literature here making the obvious point that relationships that are strong before disasters tend to be stronger afterwards. But when there are factors—and how many relationships out there do not have these stresses and strains—before disasters can often be devastating and very divisive.

I spend some time talking about that. Looking again particularly from women’s perspective of the importance of just being tired, of overwork, being the go-to person in ways that men don’t experience. I’m not saying men are not overworked or tired at disasters because that would be ridiculous. But in addition to the physical work, women are often doing the emotional work behind the scenes.

They are caring for the men who are out there working so hard in other ways, taking on domestic labor in a household where the stove may be outside if you have a stove at all. Households sometimes get much smaller. They generally get much larger and have few resources and longer commutes. You know the story. There is a lot to do and pick up and very often it falls on the women.

[Slide 21]

I think we need to focus a little bit more on disaster mothering. We also need to know more about disaster fathering. Because of the central role that mothers play in bringing people together again, getting kids back in school again, trying to find ways to support everybody, getting back to work again, meeting emotional needs assistance and physical needs of infants and young children, we have to figure out ways to support them more effectively.

It would be hard to talk about family without talking about childcare. We need to develop a capacity within childcare organizations. There is a lot of progress in that area but in my view, not enough. We need to really examine our disaster risk reduction templates, models and frameworks for everything we do in the field, and ask always if they are family friendly, women friendly, and if they represent the diversity of households and families in this country. There is more that needs to be said there.

[Slide 22]

With respect to housing and homes I think this is one of the most egregious examples of pre-existing vulnerability because it doesn’t take long to establish that women have very low levels of housing security internationally and that is true in the States as well.

Lack of affordable housing, more likely to be renters, more likely to be couch surfing, more likely to be invisible even around homelessness, to be displaced by violence—housing is important to women for that reason—that they are subject to insecure housing to begin with. One divorce away from homelessness in some cases.

In this chapter I take up the question of home protection, mitigation and preparedness—how people work in the home physically to prepare. There is a fairly well-established body of literature about women as effective risk communicators. Women are the ones who more often than not—more often than men, I should say, because most Americans don’t do mitigation, don’t do preparedness or listen to emergency managers—but when anybody is, it is going to be more likely women than men.

Gender has been proven to be extremely important and powerful predictor of evacuation decisions. Whether that is gender, parenthood, whether it is age of parenthood—we haven’t teased out all those different questions. There is conflicting data on that point.

I also talk about women in temporary accommodations and some of the experiences in shelters and women doing the behind the scenes work of making a house, be it ever so humble, be it the corner of a shelter, into some kind of a home. I also get into the question of roadblocks to resettlement. That is a large and negative case study in Katrina on that point that I took up that in that chapter.

[Slide 23]

This leads to an understanding that we need to really, in our risk communication, prioritize talking with women in some respects but also prioritize figuring out ways to talk with men around things like evacuation. You need to not drive around fire barriers as is happening in my own community so often when we have house fires.

We also need to support women in home construction roles which is one of the major avenues of economic recovery for men and not yet in this country for women, to do more research on some of the things that help women and men get back on their feet and get back into housing—a huge subject in the country at large but in disasters even more important.

[Slide 24]

Work—by which of course I mean unpaid work as well as paid work—different kinds of work and workplaces—the gender division of labor is obvious in one of the most important and most cross-cutting parts of gender relations in any society and certainly in ours as well.

It doesn’t take long to understand the pay gap once you understand the division of labor gap and the greater value accorded work men do as opposed to work women do in society. In disasters, that is reflected as well. We need to understand, and in this chapter I reviewed some of the literature on what happens in disasters—women are less able to go back to work than men because of competing demands at home.

Women have greater economic losses because so much of our income is based in the home. We earn money out of beauty salons, editing from freelance offices in the basement, or we raise children and do family daycare. Women whose incomes are based on resources—we talk to the women on the Gulf Coast or around the Exxon Valdez about that.

There is a wide variety of different kinds of areas—family and work conflicts being one of them. In this chapter I also wanted to make the point that in our language around disaster responders and first responders we so often look at men in men’s occupations or women in traditionally male occupations such as firefighting.

We need to highlight in our work, partnerships and capacity building efforts to look at women who are primary school teachers, for example or women who are lay faith leaders, women who are working in community agencies and working as mental health counselors and formal and informal health care providers. These are women who are central, respected in their communities, often at the head of complex networks and that work they do is extremely important piece of work. Those are some areas we want to focus on.

[Slide 25]

I do think that our economic recovery plan, to the degree that we are doing them and we need to do more in the country around that—they need to be gender sensitive and part of that is to make sure that all data all the analyses have sex specific data to provide for the possibility of doing gender analysis and that it also incorporates paid and unpaid labor work in the informal, which is to say the contingent sector, working part time, working a number of different jobs, working in insecure locations as well as people working in full time large bureaucracies that may be able to provide more support to disaster affected people as they get back to work.

There is a lot to be said there but looking at the clock I’d like to hear from you as well.

[Slide 26]

Those are my five chapters around the effects and impacts. Even as I was writing I was frustrated myself because this is the state of the knowledge to date. We know a lot about what happens to—we know really far less about how women respond to what women do, what men and women do together, what they do separately, what they do at odds.

As one of the people who has contributed to this body of knowledge who feels that in the United States, and Canada and internationally I am always looking at what happens to women—I am no longer going to do that. I have sworn off, no another impact study. You heard it here.

In the last three chapters of the book I am taking a different focus. I took a closer look at what women do in the immediacy of disasters and in the aftermath, highlighting the volunteer work women do as individuals. I think probably my favorite picture of all time is the women in Iowa who just delivered lunch to some of the other people working the floods and different things in Iowa.

This is Sharon Hanshaw on the top who is the wonderful woman who after Katrina moved from the beauty salon that was destroyed in the storm to Coastal Women for Change, a new NGO that is helping women adapt to some of the different changes in their lives partly out of Katrina and partly due to climate change.

It’s a good example of an emergent organization. It has been almost twenty years ago that Betty Hearn Morrow and I looked at Women Will Rebuild in Miami as one example and I am happy to see that now we have a slowly developing sense of the diversity of ways that women organize collectively.

In this chapter I acknowledge, respect and applaud and I think we need to support our women volunteers who work individually. As a disaster sociologist I am more interested in what women do collectively because it potentially has legs. I examine some of the forms of women’s work around disasters in the United States with case studies looking at work that is grounded in service work and service organizations.

Looking at women’s work that is grounded in faith—that is one of most important kinds of organizing rubrics for anybody and in particularly women who get into disaster work. Work that is organized around social justice issues—working on anti-racist groups have been so important in bringing the issues of power and equality and justice to our dialog around disaster risk reduction with women of color in the lead here.

Looking at women who have organized around faith, social justice and feminism and women’s rights organizations—they have really stepped up in important ways. But in this chapter I have also spent a fair amount of time wondering or thinking out loud about how sustainable they are. To my knowledge very few organizations exist for very long after disasters.

Katrina Warriors—an anti-violence group in New Orleans is one example and Coastal Women for Change is another so perhaps this is going to change. In this chapter I speculate about some of the differences between those but also some of the ways we might assess the durability and capacity of organizations to stay around long enough, I would say, for them to be part of the disaster risk reduction community.

It is a two way street. We need to work with our organizations to reach out to disaster managers. Disaster managers need to understand their communities, know where women are, know how women have organized and what they can bring together. Also in this chapter I put forth a number of research questions.

[Slide 27]

I think I have mentioned in this slide—I don’t think there’s anything I need to highlight here.

[Slide 28]

The next to last chapter is again about resilience. I speculate a little bit about that concept and of course how it needs to be much more than the bounce-back notion. I am quite critical of gender mainstreaming if we don’t ask what we are mainstreaming, how and why. Here I talk about the entry of women into firefighting and emergency management and again some cautionary notes about that.

I take up here the notion of the empowerment thesis. Sometimes we hear, and I have written the sentence myself that disaster can be empowering to women. It is an opportunity to leave violence behind or learn new skills or to negotiate a different relationship with the critical men—your father, your brother, your partner, and men at work.

I think on balance, so far from our existing knowledge base in the United States, it is the other way around. In a disaster if we are not getting it right and understanding what we are doing and why we will reinforce racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, everything we are trying to change about our country we will reinforce in building back poorly, making poor decisions—if we don’t confront the power relationships that are embedded in disasters.

I also look at a different level, the international policy level at the Hyogo Framework for Action and at our country’s response. Gender is understood in the HFA as a cross-cutting principle that can’t be isolated or marginalized but must be centrally involved in every one of the five priority areas of the HFA.

I am quite critical of how little our country has done there. So then I go on a very speculative end to wrap up the book talking about the enormous potential that lies ahead in this country for women’s movements. We have historically been leaders around children’s rights, environmental justice, civil and human rights, and anti-racism.

We have been leaders in social justice movements in the past and I think we are seeing globally, and I hope here at home as well, women stepping up around climate change issues which I speculate in this chapter may be the cutting edge issue that will bring together communities in our country in ways that have never happened before.

That will happen only when women become part of the dialog and part of the community. Here in the United States we have such an opportunity to bring this discussion of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction together. I think women being centrally located as both of those—energy users, natural resource users, but also managers, prevention workers, ecologists, environmentalists, in spirit protecting households, lands, and community’s needs and anticipating them.

We are well situated. Whether the younger generation will see this as an opening or not, I don’t know but I kind of went off on a deep end there speculating. We’ll have to see what you think and let me know.

[Slide 29]

I do believe that this approach around resilience demands that we look at social justice issues and the way that inequality is currently undermined anything that we might want to mean by resiliency. I have listed a number of different steps we can take including the lessons in terms of research we need to learn from the global North and global South.

[Slide 30]

In the last chapter I made a heartfelt statement about how I think there is a long and rocky road ahead but I am so respectful of the work that disaster managers and disaster advocates do in the community. I really believe this is a challenge that the nation will meet together but it is a cinch we won’t get there without men and women working together. That was the conclusion of the chapter.

I ended with an appendix which will be out of date shortly. I included in this presentation a revised list and I will probably continue to produce those because there are more and more resources out there.

I find in my work that the templates, models, training pieces, practice guides—whether they are used or not unless we have a community and provide the network and social relationships that would make that work meaningful, it doesn’t do much good to provide yet another set of checklists and resources.

Let me know what you think. I think it is essential and necessary but it is not sufficient to have those kinds of tactical tools. We need to build the constituency.

[Slide 31]

Let me very briefly summarize a few things before I report to you—I have polling questions coming up. Looking back obviously there have been significance changes and I’m so sorry to say that in terms of awareness I was out of the country and talking about gender and disaster issues in Australia this entire week, but there was an important discussion around women and young people in emergency management and perhaps some of you were there and can tell us something about that.

Women and emergency managers are more organized than they were in the past. I and other people have been developing more teaching resources and a revised gender chapter in the revised Social Vulnerability book.

[Slide 32]

The new Gender and Disaster Resilience Alliance—and I am one of the people who is trying to get this started. It is a sister network to the Global Gender and Disaster Network. The idea here is that the work we do at home is parallel in spirit in the nature to what is happening internationally, but different. This country is different. Every country is unique.

We need to have a U.S. focused initiative. If you haven’t already visited I do hope you’ll come to the USGDRA website and see the kinds of resources we have. I am pleased to say that Emergency Preparedness Initiative Global—and thank you to Elizabeth Davis and her colleagues there—are partnering with GDRA and one of our first partnerships together will be developing a webinar series on gender and disasters. Stay tuned on that.

[Slide 33]

Looking back also there are a lot of issues we have yet to take up in any significant way. In the bottom picture the women on the left might be lifelong partners, we don’t know, but we don’t have a sense of what happens to lesbians, gays, and bisexual kids—we really do not understand.

When we talk about social marginalization we have to go there. We have to examine trafficking.

We have to not always put our dollars where most people are but understand that the people who most need disaster management, assistance, resources and networking are perhaps the people most invisible to us. That has to change. We need more knowledge about youth, boys and mothers, and Native American women and men and families in particular.

[Slide 34]

We see some policy gaps as well. If you look at some of the new changes in FEMA and our policy approaches in this country they are so strong and promising but so gender blind. Please chime in here because this is how I am seeing it. I do not see recognition of gender as a cross cutting theme in that respect and I certainly don’t in the professionalization of emergency management.

I do a fair amount of teaching in the field with emergency management students at the graduate level in the United States and Canada. I don’t see that gender is any kind of core competency in the field and I think it should be. I welcome your thoughts about that as well.

[Slide 35]

Putting together this talk and thinking about how GDRA might contribute to gender work in this country—I love to develop totally unfunded projects, but let’s talk about how we might move this forward. At least ten practical steps that could be undertaken—they already exist—this template I helped developed with some colleagues from the Caribbean.

It is a grassroots risk mapping methodology. It needs revision and it needs to be brought to the United States. I am going to be talking to colleagues in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia about how to assess some of the most promising practices around gender violence and how to reduce it in countries like ours. They perhaps can do some demonstration work and evaluation research, I hope.

[Slide 36]

Really this is one of the most important things we need to do. We need to develop risk targeted messaging that focuses particularly on men. You don’t have to read very far in extreme heat literature to understand how important this is. This is an example of a very doable project.

I would like to see work around children be more gender sensitive. There is wonderful work going around in this area but I think there is a lot of room for making it more gender sensitive.

[Slide 37]

The GDRA has developed the idea of a Women Building Disaster Resilience Campaign believing we have to build on the experiences of women who went through Katrina, Irene or who just lost their homes in the tornados, who are in communities that are preparing against earthquakes in the Northwest and communities all over the nation that are preparing for pandemic. To build on the knowledge they have gained, the really hard won knowledge, to meet in a meet-and-greet speakers bureau, two or three day field site visit model.

To meet with women who are in the local communities and with emergency managers. That is something we can really contribute to the dialog. I would love to see a roundtable of women’s organizations called again at the very highest levels to ask them, so you’re thinking National Association of Women Business Owners NAWBO or looking at some of the social justice women’s organization, ask them to help us make the connections with the work they are already doing.

[Slide 38]

Here in number seven I am doing a lot more work in reading about climate. I am being an academic. I would like to start a list with an annotated bibliography that might be able to bring some of these connections together.

Being a firm believer in training as well—I think this is something we have all talked about for a long time but has still not been developed—a user friendly resource for certification programs and also you could use it for college coursework—something that summarizes in a simple way some of the major gender issues.

[Slide 39]

Number nine is perhaps my top priority of all right now because I am so concerned that as we move forward we don’t yet have a good sense of integrating gender holistically at a policy level, at a practice level. We have made such progress around questions around disability and children but substantially less effective work around gender, race and class. That affects the future.

Networking—we really do need to develop a simple way that would become a tool of the trade—a kind of baseline, good practice model for bringing together women and men. I surprising myself by calling for single sex organizational work because I’m usually on the other side of that. I think in this field it is a good way to capitalize on the strengths that arise when women work separately and men work separately and then bring it all together.

[Slide 40]

There are lots of ways forward. Looking at the clock, I’m not going to speak to this point but if you are interested—and this is why I love EM Forum because they archives these slides. You can chime in here and these are examples of how I think we might be able to begin more work in this area. Building up the GDRA is very important to a lot of us.

[Slide 41]

Building more and broader partnerships—I have a list like this in the book as well. There are many people doing excellent work on women’s issues and gender issues but not with sensitivity to disaster. If we can help make that connection we broaden our community of practice as well.

[Slide 42]

There is a lot of room for doing more teaching. If anyone knows I have an online gender and disaster course ready to go. I have taught it once already and I would love to teach it again. I am just one person. There are many other people who can and should and will do this work once we decide that learning and teaching about gender is important.

[Slide 43]

Policy development—we need to take a close look at these five action areas of the HFA and ask ourselves how are we approaching these in this country and how gender and sensitivity to men, women, boys and girls be integrated through that holistically.

[Slide 44]

The same goes with respect for the Whole Community approach. I was quite taken by looking at the document itself. I always look for some reflection in the examples chosen, language chosen, illustrations, analyses, references chosen for some recognition that the world is gendered. Gender relations are deeply embedded in everything about our intimate lives, households, organizations, communities, organizational work around disasters—but I didn’t see it.

[Slide 45]

It may be there because I’m a really picky person. I’ll just give you one example. If we’re going to have photographs of the Boy Scouts, can we not also have photos of the Girl Scouts? If you haven’t seen it already, go to YouTube and see this fabulous public service announcement that these sweet girls have made with our Department of Homeland Security Head Secretary standing at attention there.

It is a wonderful story about empowerment, connections between power and women of emergency management, DHS, and role models for the next generation of girls working in this field. It could have easily been illustrated in this book as well.

[Slide 46]

I’m a fast talker and I hope you’re still with me. I have lots of different questions but now I’d like to turn it back to Amy because I have four slide polls I thought we could use as a basis for discussion. If we don’t have time and you have other thoughts, please email me. I’d love to hear from you.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Elaine. Now we will get some feedback with our poll questions. When I open the actual poll, it should display in a new panel in WebEx where you can select your choices or enter brief responses and click on the Submit button. We will give folks a few moments, and then I will display the results and move to the next question. Please note, if you need to, you can make the poll panel larger by dragging the left edge.

[Slide 47, Poll 1]

1. In your view, what accounts for these gaps in research, policy, and practice? (select all that apply) Results displayed as [#checked/respondents = %]

  1. Little knowledge about sex/gender as risk factors in disasters [8/25 = 32%]
  2. Little knowledge/minimizing of everyday living conditions facing many US women [6/25 = 24%]
  3. Equating "gender" with women only [5/25 = 20%]
  4. Equating gender & disaster issues with poor countries only [6/25 = 24%]
  5. Interpreting "gender issues" as "vulnerability" solely [6/25 = 24%]
  6. Equating the presence of women with gender sensitive practice, e.g. in emergency management roles [5/25 = 20%]
  7. All of the above [15/25 = 60%]
  8. None of the above [0/25 = 0%]

2. Other factors? Responses:

"The systemic minimization of women, all-round"

"EMs too busy to deal with fluffy stuff"

[Slide 48, Poll 2]

1. What are the best drivers of change toward more gender-responsive EM practice in the US? (select all that apply)

  1. Advocacy from grassroots women [9/22 = 41%]
  2. Advocacy from women/men in emergency management [10/22 = 45%]
  3. On-line for-credit training modules/coursework for EM [3/22 = 14%]
  4. Public awareness campaigns [7/22 = 32%]
  5. Capacity building in women’s organizations [6/22 = 27%]
  6. Policy review and recommended changes [7/22 = 32%]
  7. All of the above [7/22 = 32%]
  8. None of the above [0/22 = 0%]

2. Other factors? Responses:

"I have seen significant widespread policy change stemming from women's participation in EM"

"Higher focus on preparedness education for youth as well"

"Recruit high profile, wealthy women who have experienced devastation from disaster"

"Tie into grant funding requirements"

"Recommended policies and models for the changes we want."

[Slide 49, Poll 3]

1. Who are potential champions of this work? (select all that apply)

  1. Governmental emergency management orgs [5/17 = 29%]
  2. Relief organizations, e.g. Red Cross, faith-based [5/17 = 29%]
  3. Business leaders, e.g. in insurance sector [4/17 = 24%]
  4. Women/men in emergency management roles [4/17 = 24%]
  5. Women/men working on Climate/environmental issues [0/17 = 0%]
  6. Women/men in social justice/women’s rights orgs [3/17 = 18%]
  7. Disaster-affected women [3/17 = 18%]
  8. All of the above [7/17 = 41%]
  9. None of the above [0/17 = 0%]

2. Others? No responses.

[Slide 50, Poll 4]

1. What should be the primary focus of collective efforts in the US to increase gender sensitivity in DRR? (select all that apply)

  1. Coalition building/community organizing [7/18 = 39%]
  2. Develop and disseminate practical resources [7/18 = 39%]
  3. Seek partnerships/networking [9/18 = 50%]
  4. Mentoring/teaching [7/18 = 39%]
  5. Demonstration projects [6/18 = 33%]
  6. Advocacy [5/18 = 28%]
  7. Build the GDRA [5/18 = 28%]
  8. All of the above [7/18 = 39%]
  9. None of the above [0/18 = 0%]

2. Others? Response:

"This presentation is quite effective and would..."

[Slide 51]

I’m sorry we won’t have much time for discussion.

[Slide 52, 53]

The last one I wanted to put up is about some resources so you know about the GDN and GDRA. Please circulate those. We would love to have those listed as resources on your websites. There are book ordering forms with discounts, I emphasize, and the Women of Katrina book—I wanted you to know that Emmanuel and I are donating all the royalties to the News Foundation because their work along the Gulf Coast with women’s organizations was so important.

Women Confronting Natural Disaster—no, I am trying to recoup the cost of my indexing on that book so I am not donating those. There is a resource sheet of selected resources I updated in 2012 with some new things from the CDC on reproductive health toolkit and a piece on gender in HFA and gender that I did for the GDN.

I sent Amy a moment ago a French-English version of a short, public, accessible statement called "Not Just Victims—Women in Emergencies and Disasters" that friends and colleagues in Manitoba—you know I was teaching up there, put together. Margaret Haworth-Brockman from the Prairie Women’s Health and Center for Excellence in beautiful Winnipeg has generously printed those out and shared the PDF.

I’d like to see something like this in the United States or perhaps this exact one. Maybe let me know if you think it is worth translating into Spanish. We now have it in English and French. Those are some of the resources. Thank you for tuning in and I appreciate your answers to the poll questions. I would love to hear from you and hope we continue the dialog. Thank you Amy and Avagene.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. On behalf of Avagene and myself and all our participants today, thank you very much Elaine for taking time to prepare and share this information with us today. We wish you every success with your continuing efforts..

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Until next time, thanks to everyone for participating today. We hope you have a great afternoon. Come again. We are adjourned.