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

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A practical guide to gender-sensitive approaches for disaster management - 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.
http://www.ifrc.org/PageFiles/96532/A%20Guide%20for%20Gender-sensitive%20approach%20to%20DM.pdf

Addressing the needs of women and girls: Developing core competencies for mental health and substance abuse service professionals - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
In this guide, the authors provide a comprehensive overview of prevention, treatment, and recovery competencies to help women and girls cope with mental illness and substance abuse. Target audiences include mental health and substance use (behavioral health) professionals who work with women and girls; behavioral health educators, trainers, and program managers; licensing organizations; and policymakers, funders, and administrators. The guide explains the process by which the competencies were developed, presents the competencies themselves, and explains how people within the different audiences can apply the competencies to improving behavioral health care for girls and women.
http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA11-4657/SMA11-4657.pdf

Caring for your baby in a disaster - 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.
http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/prepare-for-a-disaster-information-for-anyone-caring-for-a-newborn.aspx

Children and disaster: Part 2: What parents and caregivers can say and do - Michigan State University Extension, Extensión en Español
This document in Spanish provides guidelines categorized by child and youth age ranges that parents can use to support children during and after disasters, as well as to help children of all ages decrease fear.
http://extensionenespanol.net/tmppdfs/1470090-e2963s.pdf?CFID=1470090&CFTOKEN=7d80974c7ba66802-A66BB026-D0B0-4A0F-97D548FB27271BCC&jsessionid=e430eed7be87ce34c4302f712c5942664b70

Children with multiple risks: Preventing toxic stress and meeting the needs of children and families with multiple serious risk factors - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This chapter discusses the importance of understanding the connections between maternal substance abuse and supportive services for children. The material also provides information on women in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the importance of linking services to children of mothers who are in residential substance abuse treatment. The content in this chapter can help a variety of community, state, and federal stakeholders understand issues specific to children and families post-disaster. [The resource is Chapter 6 is from "State Issues and Innovations in Creating Integrated Early Learning and Development Systems, A Follow ­Up to Early Childhood 2010: Innovations for the Next Generation"]
http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA11-4661/SMA11-4661Chapter6.pdf

Delivering gender-informed health services in emergencies - 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.
http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/abc/Pages/gender.aspx

Disaster mental health response handbook - University of West Georgia/The New South Wales (NSW) Institute of Psychiatry
This handbook discusses the unhelpful stereotype of evacuating women and children first during emergencies, gender issues, relationship status issues, and the differences between older and younger women in disasters.
http://www.westga.edu/~vickir/ResourcesPublications/Professionals/Manuals,%20Guides,%20&%20Handbooks/Disaster%20MH%20Response.pdf

East Asia and Pacific region sustainable development: Gender and disaster risk management: Making women's voices count-Addressing gender issues in disaster risk management in East Asia and the Pacific - 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.
http://www.gfdrr.org/sites/gfdrr.org/files/Guidance_Note_1_Making_Womens_Voices_Count_Addressing_Gender_Issues_in_DRM_in_EAP.pdf

Effects of disasters on pregnant women - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS, CDC)
This web page discusses the negative effects of disasters on pregnant women and explains the importance of medications and immunizations and the risk of birth defects in unborn children.
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disasters/women.html

Effects of disasters on pregnant women: Infections - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS, CDC)
This fact sheet provides information on the effects of certain infections on pregnant women and their unborn children. The document offers information on the risks of chickenpox, influenza, West Nile virus, and numerous other diseases.
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disasters/infections.html

Effects of disasters on pregnant women: What you need to know if you are pregnant - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS, CDC)
This web page provides helpful information for pregnant women to protect themselves and their unborn children during a disaster. It offers information on infections, medications, immunizations, environmental exposures, and stress and coping.
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disasters/qanda_long.html

Emergency preparedness - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health (HHS, OWH)
OWH provides women's health activities in an effort to improve the health and sense of well-being of all women and girls in the United States. OWH also leads the efforts of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that all women and girls achieve the best possible health. This web page provides information on disaster preparedness and planning. It includes a link to disaster-related information in Spanish. This web page provides information on disaster preparedness and planning. It includes a link to disaster-related information in Spanish.
http://womenshealth.gov/emergency-preparedness

Emergency preparedness and response: Pregnant women and newborns - 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.
http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Emergency

Family preparedness plan - 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-month%20#q3
http://www.nctsn.org/nctsn_assets/pdfs/edu_materials/revised-folded4.pdf

Family preparedness: Thinking ahead - National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
This document provides information to help women and their families prepare for disasters and reviews information families should know before an emergency, such as the location of evacuation routes. In addition, the document can help families create an emergency plan and a family communication plan. There is also information on how to make an emergency supply kit and how to stay informed during and after an emergency. Finally, the document includes ways to maintain preparedness. This document is also available in five other languages.
http://nctsn.org/products/family-preparedness-thinking-ahead-2003

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Last Updated: 10/27/2015