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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

e-discussion summary: Measuring gender equality - 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.

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.

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

Family preparedness: Thinking ahead - 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-vietnamese.

Gender and Disaster Network - 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.

Gender and disaster recovery - 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.

Gender and disasters - 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.

Gender and disaster webinar #3: Disasters and women's health and hygiene - Gender and Disaster Resilience Alliance and EPI Global
This webinar highlights topics on emergency health care and hygiene issues in disaster events and discusses posttraumatic stress disorder for pregnant women after disasters. The webinar also provides case examples and examines people's experiences in gender health and hygiene following disasters.

Gender and health in natural disasters - 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.

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Last Updated: 10/27/2015