Gender and emergency management

Women, men and gender diverse people experience disasters differently. Gender can influence how people perceive what is risky, who makes decisions and how people get or seek help or support during or following an emergency.

Australian and international research shows that “issues relating to gender are known to compound the already damaging effects of disasters”:

  • Violence against women and family violence increase at times of disaster. This can include an increase in severity for women already experiencing violence or first-time occurrences. Women with disabilities are particularly vulnerable.
  • Communities and support workers are more likely to make excuses for family violence during and after a disaster, justifying it as emerging from ‘stress’, ‘frustration’ or ‘trauma’.
  • Gender inequalities are heightened. Emergency management services and Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committees are very male dominated, both in numbers and within their culture. Given this, it is largely men who decide how a community mitigates, responds to or recovers from disaster.
  • Traditional gender roles and stereotypes are reinforced. For example, expectations that so-called ‘real men’ act as heroes, avoid showing emotion or don’t seek help – all of which can deeply impact men’s mental health.
  • Risk of discrimination, harassment or abuse increases for LGBTIQ people. This can result in LGBTIQ people being reluctant to access support services, particularly if they are faith-based.

The following resources provide practical advice to help councils and their stakeholders improve their understanding and include consideration of gender in emergency management policy and practice.

Useful resources

For broader information and practical resources on preventing violence against women and reducing gender inequality, visit the gender equality section of our website.