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AJEM January 2022: gender justice in disaster

December 2021

This edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management looks at the important issue of gender justice in disasters. As Professor Emerita Raewyn Connell writes, ‘before an event, someone’s gender is likely to shape their vulnerability and exposure’. This has implications for women, men and LGBTIQA+ people.

Responses to disaster are often shaped by hypermasculine images and terminology, with firefighter “heroes” battling the flames. These stereotypes not only exclude a segment of the workforce, but they also add to the pressure for men within the sector to live up to an unhelpful and harmful cliché.

In the recovery phase of disasters, where community-led approaches are enshrined as one of the key principles of disaster recovery, those who hold power in communities are likely to make the decisions, and historically, elected officials are more likely to be men. Interrogating these hierarchies and pausing to reflect on who is not represented at the table will help create safer and inclusive preparations for future hazard and emergency events. This is particularly critical in regard to preventing increased violence against women after disasters – an issue we know is both neglected and preventable.

This edition includes the proceedings of Gender and Disaster Australia’s Gender Justice in Disasters conference held in May 2021, when the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were being experienced across the world.