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Women are disproportionately impacted by natural disasters such as the recent 7.9 earthquake in Nepal, usually as a result of their gendered status in society. This impact occurs both when the earthquake struck in which more females were killed and injured than males and in the post-disaster period when vital resources are diminished and women’s traditional access to resources means they are at greater risk.

Compounding these difficulties is a more ingrained problem: in many communities, it’s not easy for women to make their voices heard and ensure their needs are prioritised. This is why organisations like Oxfam try to keep the needs of women and girls in sharp focus when undertaking disaster relief.

But recent research has shown that women are a vital part of disaster mitigation and response efforts, whether acting within their traditional gender roles or transcending them. The earthquakes in Nepal provides women with a unique opportunity to challenge and change their gendered status in society. Understanding this the PeaceMakers are taking action.

When carrying out relief and rehabitation activities in earthquake affected areas, PeaceMakers are providing women with an opportunity to undergo training as part of the Women’s Empowerment program. Under this program disadvantaged women have an opportunity for sewing and garment making training and possible micro-finance assistance to set up their own business. This is just the kind of opportunity that can change women’s lives and those of their families.

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