Storms are characterised by very violent winds and torrential rain, sometimes accompanied by thunderstorms. This weather phenomenon is referred to differently depending on the geographical region where it occurs:
(i) a “hurricane” in the western North Atlantic, central and eastern North Pacific, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico;
(ii) a “typhoon” in the western North Pacific;
(iii) a “cyclone” in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea; and
(iv) “tropical cyclone” in the western South Pacific and southeast and southwest Indian Ocean.
Women's vulnerability not only varies when a storm strikes depending on the level of gender inclusiveness and inequalities where they are, but it also varies in the aftermath, leading to increased disaster-related impacts. Women's mortality is linked to their access to risk information and decision-making. Because their losses and damages are not direct, their vulnerability is not as visible. In particular, women face protection challenges and not having access to safe sites renders them far more vulnerable than the physical dangers posed by storms. They are often at a greater distance from water, sanitation and health facilities, which exposes them to additional threats such as gender-based violence and interrupted access to vital health services.
This affects women differently, as evident in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in 2019, which hit Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia. 53% of those in urgent need were women exposed to high maternal health risks, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, limited economic prospects, and gender-based violence. More than 75,000 cyclone-affected women in Mozambique were pregnant, with over half expected to give birth in the next six months. Girls were more likely to miss out on school following the damage of the cyclone. Furthermore, there was a significant possibility that the feminisation of poverty would increase as a result of poor access to services, loss of livelihoods and loss of financial freedom and independence for many women.