Women & Disasters

This installment of the SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series (DBHIS) focuses on women and women’s organizations in disaster behavioral health research, planning, response, and recovery around the world. Topics covered include but are not limited to the following:

  • Gender-sensitive approaches to disaster response and disaster behavioral health
  • Ways to support physical and emotional well-being for children in the event of a disaster
  • Special considerations for pregnant women in disasters
  • Family disaster preparedness and planning

Use the menu bar at left to narrow the results by issue, condition, or disorder; topic in prevention or recovery; and more.

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Displaying 43 total results.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

This guide highlights the need for gender-sensitive approaches and provides information on gender issues in disaster management. The document describes the approaches of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies when integrating gender into the disaster management cycle and strengthening accountability for gender impact. The guide also includes international case studies.

March of Dimes

This web page provides information for anyone caring for a newborn baby during a disaster. It offers preparedness and recovery information and discusses how to cope with and recover from physical, mental, and emotional stress.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS, ASPR)

This fact sheet discusses the physical and mental health issues that affect each gender differently. The document also stresses the importance of maintaining a gender perspective in emergencies, how to provide gender-responsive health services in emergencies, how to address the physical and psychosocial trauma of gender-based violence in emergencies, and the guiding principles for providing support to survivors.

United Nations Development Programme

The authors of this summary discuss the importance of gender equality and programming effectiveness, and the need for data analysis tools and techniques that can be used by researchers with interest in measuring worldwide gender equality.

World Bank, East Asia and the Pacific Region, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery

This fact sheet provides information for disaster managers and planners about the challenges that women face in East Asia and the Pacific. The document highlights key findings, explains why women are at higher risk, and describes recommendations for best practices in the planning, decision-making, and implementation processes.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (HHS, CDC, NCCDPHP)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers numerous resources related to disasters and pregnant women and women with newborns as well as older women to offer guidance to health, mental health, and public health officials.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

This wallet card can be completed by parents and caregivers. The card contains space for entering vital information that is necessary during emergencies. This document is also available in other languages at http://www.nctsn.org/resources/public-awareness/national-preparedness-mo...

National Child Traumatic Stress Network, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCTSN, NCCTS)

This document helps families prepare for a disaster or other emergency. It reviews information families should know before an emergency, such as the location of evacuation routes. It also helps families create an emergency plan and a family communication plan. It is also available in Armenian at https://www.nctsn.org/resources/family-preparedness-thinking-ahead-armenian, Korean at https://www.nctsn.org/resources/family-preparedness-thinking-ahead-korean, Russian at https://www.nctsn.org/resources/family-preparedness-thinking-ahead-russian, Spanish at https://www.nctsn.org/resources/preparacion-familiar-como-tomar-previsiones, and Vietnamese at https://www.nctsn.org/resources/family-preparedness-thinking-ahead-vietn....

Gender and Disaster Network

The purpose of this organization is to foster and share information for researchers and practitioners on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and gender equality and diversity, with a focus on women and disasters. The organization provides resources that explain how communities, community leaders, state and local governments, disaster responders, and women in general can effectively network. Also, the organization highlights resources on how to promote young women as professionals, how to promote women and gender issues as an important research topic, and how to use online resources in the disaster response and recovery field.

Australian Journal of Emergency Management

This article discusses how understanding the importance of diversity needs, strengths, and vulnerability within communities is considered crucial in disaster recovery. The publication provides information on gender perspectives on risk reduction and recovery, the participation of women's organizations in disaster recovery efforts, measures taken to address gender-based issues in recovery, plans and programs developed with gender sensitivities, and post-disaster needs assessment methodologies.

United Nations Development Programme, Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery

This article discusses the importance of recognizing the strong relationship between gender equality and disaster resilience and covers topics on understanding gender, the differences in gender disaster reactions, and the importance of support services. The article can be used by researchers with interest in measuring worldwide gender equality.

World Health Organization (WHO)

This article discusses the lack of research on sex and gender differences in vulnerability to the impact of disasters. The publication considers the issues of gender roles, social and economic consequences, evidence of domestic and sexual violence, psychological impacts, planning and delivering disaster response services, the research that is needed, and the implications for disaster relief programs and policies.

World Health Organization (WHO)

This fact sheet discusses the mental health problems that differ by gender. The document considers the information that is currently known, underlying factors such as gender roles and gender-based violence, health-seeking behaviors, service delivery issues, social consequences, research that is needed, and implications for mental health policies and programs. The fact sheet can be used by behavioral health and primary care administrators, supervisors, and treatment professionals.

World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization (WHO, PAHO)

This fact sheet highlights the general gender-related issues for women and natural disasters; specifically why women are more vulnerable in disaster situations, and why women provide unique disaster response support.

World Health Organization (WHO)

This fact sheet discusses topics such as gender disparities and mental health, gender-specific risk factors, gender bias, women's mental health, and the World Health Organization's focus on women's mental health. The document can be used by behavioral health and primary care administrators, supervisors, and treatment professionals.

World Bank Institute Distance Learning, Natural Disaster Risk Management Program

This fact sheet highlights six areas of action that serve as guidelines concerning gender-sensitive crisis response and recovery. The areas are: (1) use of gender analysis in capacity and vulnerability assessments, (2) gender-fair disaster interventions, (3) sustainable income-generating projects, (4) responsive employers, (5) partnership with women's organizations, and (6) promotion of women's empowerment.

World Health Organization (WHO)

This fact sheet provides key questions for practitioners and disaster responders to ask about disaster preparedness and response in order to address gender-related issues. The document provides examples of the needs of women in the aftermath of a tsunami, how women should be viewed as "carers," how to access aid, the risk of exploitation and abuse, and the key principles of good practice.

Gender and Disaster Network

This fact sheet helps disaster managers and responders adapt gender equality principles and practices for disaster recovery and response. The key principles of discussion include incorporating gender equality and risk reduction in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery; collecting data on gender in disasters; working with grassroots women's groups; and supporting women in their contributions and helping them develop their capacities

Gender and Disaster Network

This report highlights information for disaster managers, communities, and women's and gender equality organizations about international efforts over the past decade preceding the report to develop more gender-sensitive approaches to disaster risk management. The document also discusses initiatives by researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to promote gender equality and mainstreaming in emergency preparedness and management.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

This publication presents examples from several countries of incorporating gender equality and gender-related issues into disaster risk reduction. Examples come from countries including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, and Peru. Each example includes lessons learned. The publication may be useful to practitioners and policymakers, particularly those who work in rural areas and developing nations.

Gender and Disaster Network

This toolkit highlights the outcome of a research study on gender mainstreaming strategies used by nongovernmental organizations and the government in their responses to and management of the tsunami aftermath in Tamil Nadu.

International Recovery Platform

This guide provides information on the training and education, physical and mental health, and empowerment of women in the aftermath of disasters.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS, CDC)

This fact sheet provides information for pregnant women who are preparing for an emergency birth, preparing for an emergency or disaster, evacuating, or staying in a shelter or place other than their home. The document also discusses what to do during and just after a disaster, and provides helpful tips and resources on how to recover after a disaster.

Washington State University

This PowerPoint presentation highlights the role of gender and the importance of gender equality in disaster response. The PowerPoint covers topics such as vulnerability, the specific needs of men and women, gender cultural differences, post-disaster gender-based violence, and the role of the media. [Author: Miller, S.]

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

SAMHSA DTAC supports the efforts of states, territories, tribes, and local entities to be prepared so that they are better able to deliver an effective behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) response to disasters. SAMHSA DTAC provides guidance pertaining to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program by facilitating information exchange and knowledge brokering, connecting technical assistance requestors to their peers and experts in the field. SAMHSA DTAC also has useful print and electronic materials in its resource collection about disaster behavioral health preparedness and response.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)

The SAMHSA Store offers free publications and tip sheets, many of which can be downloaded, on topics such as substance misuse and disasters.

Prevention Web

This article discusses the social roles assigned to women as caregivers and nurturers after a disaster. The publication examines the factors that affect the resilience of women, such as the division of labor, visibility levels, human development factors, recourse to legal protection, access to information, supply of information, and importance of including women in the disaster recovery decision-making processes.

Social Science Research Network

This paper addresses the specific vulnerability of girls and women with respect to mortality from natural disasters and their aftermath and discusses how natural disasters lower the life expectancy of women more than that of men. In other words, natural disasters (and their subsequent impact), on average, kill more women than men or kill women at an earlier age than men. Since female life expectancy is generally higher than that of males, natural disasters can narrow the gender gap in life expectancy. [Citation: Neumayer E., Plumper T. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 2007;97(3):551-566.]

Disaster Research Institute

This article discusses the needs of women during and after disasters and emergencies. The document emphasizes the importance of gender in psychosocial considerations, the crisis phase response to an emergency, the relief phase response to an emergency or disaster, and reconstruction and the development phase following an emergency or disaster. [Authors: Wiest, R. E., Mocellin, J. S. P., and Motsisi, D. T.]

The Shriver Report

The Shriver Report by Maria Shriver is a nonprofit project and media platform for a national study and comprehensive report on the conditions of women in America.

Gender and Disaster Network

Maureen Fordham designed and collated this set of materials for a "training of trainers" for the United Nations Development Programme. The materials were first delivered in Colombo, Sri Lanka in December 2007. These resources may be most appropriate for community researchers who are interested in employing these training materials with women, focusing on the identification of vulnerabilities and the development of action plans worldwide.

World Health Organization (WHO)

This article highlights the important violence-related issues that communities face in the aftermath of a disaster. The publication discusses the factors that may contribute to an increase in violence after a disaster; the types of violence that are likely to increase, such as child abuse and neglect, domestic and sexual violence, and exploitation (including sexual exploitation); and best practices for response in the acute and disaster recovery phases.

National Hispanic Medical Association

This fact sheet contains information for disaster managers and planners on mitigation and preparedness concerning women and disasters. The document discusses the impact of disasters on women, women's vulnerability during disasters, important information for emergency response and recovery organizations, and systems to use when helping women. The fact sheet also identifies opportunities for women in post-disaster response activities. [Author: Enarson, E.]


This article highlights the issues of women and their vulnerability in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. These issues include race, class, age, and disability, in addition to the importance of preparedness and response resources and the best practices that should be followed when attending to the needs of women. [Author: Enarson, E.]

United Nations Development Programme

This document showcases best practices for disaster planners and communities to promote and practice gender mainstreaming in disaster risk reduction. This publication highlights the experiences of several states in India: Assam, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, and Maharashtra. The document presents gender equity initiatives in disaster risk management to promote women's involvement in community disaster preparedness.

Gender and Disaster Network

This fact sheet provides information on preparedness, response, and recovery as it relates to women and disasters. The document offers information that is tailored for use by shelters, coalitions, and practitioners in the disaster response planning and guidance field to provide support to women in their communities throughout a disaster.

Gender and Disaster Network

This fact sheet discusses the importance of disaster risk communication around issues of gender, specifically women. The document explains that disaster communication must be creative, sensitive to culture and context, gender-targeted, and based on knowledge of how particular groups of women and men create, receive, interpret, and exchange knowledge about hazards and disasters.

Gender and Disaster Network

This fact sheet helps disaster managers understand the importance of engaging women in disaster mitigation activities as well as in recovery and response. The document explains that around the world, women strive to reduce disaster risk by directly addressing the hazards to which they and their families are exposed, using both local and specialist knowledge.

Gender and Disaster Network

This fact sheet helps disaster managers understand the importance of gender equality in disaster preparedness, recovery, and response as a cross-cutting concern that requires attention throughout the planning, implementation, and evaluation phases.

Project Syndicate

This article discusses the need for more women to volunteer at the community level after a disaster, as well as the need for more women to serve in senior positions as disaster managers. The article also warns against ignoring the importance of addressing the needs of women and discusses how women should be used as a vital disaster recovery resource. [Author: Wahlstrom, M.]

World Health Organization (WHO)

Humanitarian professionals and practitioners developed this handbook to improve gender equality programming in humanitarian efforts and programs. The handbook discusses the basics of gender equality, the coordination of gender equality in emergencies and the elements of conducting effective coordination, and the numerous gender issues with health, food, shelter, and education in emergencies.

Population Council

This guide discusses the issues of natural disaster recovery for women and their communities. The document provides specific international examples on considering the need to reshape disaster response to establish opportunities for women and their communities, supporting affected women in earthquake recovery, and encouraging practical and strategic contributions of affected women to disaster response and mitigation. [Authors: Yonder, A., Akcar, S., and Gopalan, P.]

Gender and Disaster Network

This workbook provides information to help women conduct hazard assessments and plan mitigation in their communities. The model was developed and tested in communities in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, St. Lucia, and Dominica. [Authors: Enarson, E., Gonzales, M., Meyreles, L., Morrow, B., Mullings, A., and Soares, J.] Also available in Spanish at http://www.gdnonline.org/resources/WorkingWithWomenSpanish.pdf

Last Updated: 10/27/2015