Women and men face different risks and vulnerabilities during disaster, and they bring different resources to preparing for and coping with disaster. Less well recognised are the ways in which humanitarian interventions themselves influence the nature of gender relations during crises. A gender-blind humanitarian response which does not address gender-specific issues and does not pay particular attention to the situation of women can worsen both the immediate survival prospects for women and their families, and women’s long-term position in society. This article contends that the process of providing humanitarian aid and the institutions that deliver it tend to be inherently male-biased and thus discriminatory against women, and that a commitment is needed both to understanding how institutional bias works against women, and to challenging the status quo.
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