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.
- An initiative of two Victorian women’s health organisations and the Monash University Disaster Resilience Initiative, the Gender and Disaster Pod website includes the National Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines, training options, research papers and other resources
- Australian Journal of Emergency Management gender edition
- Australian Emergency Management Knowledge Hub: Gender resources pack
- Bushfire CRC, Fire Note 101: Gender and bushfire
- Department of Health and Human Services, Emergency management planning for children and young people (PDF - 1.87MB)
- Department of Health and Human Services, Family violence framework for emergency management
- MAV Gender and emergency management fact sheet (Word - 354KB)
- MAV Gender and emergency management fact sheet (PDF - 801KB)
- MAV Gender and emergency management strategy (Word - 63KB)
- MAV Case study Flood Preparation - Gender and Decision Making (Word - 319KB)
- MAV Case study Gender and bushfire planning (Word - 318KB)
- MAV Case study Recovering from disaster: Men and masculine expectations (Word - 274KB)
For broader information and practical resources on preventing violence against women and reducing gender inequality, visit the gender equality section of our website.