At the International Women’s Health Coalition, our hearts go out to the people of Haiti and their families around the world.
Several organizations, including our colleague American Jewish World Service, are working to address the urgent needs of those affected by the earthquake. As women’s health and rights advocates, we also feel it is also important to look at the effects of a natural disaster through the frame of gender. The Pan American Health Organization published this short PDF, Gender and Natural Disasters Fact Sheet, which illuminates issues like the following:
As one of the primary aspects of women’s health in particular, reproductive and sexual health are beginning to be recognized as key components of disaster relief efforts, however attention to them remains inadequate and women’s health suffers disproportionately as a result.
At the same time, women are uniquely positioned to take the lead in healing their communities after natural disasters:
Women are most effective at mobilizing the community to respond to disasters. They form groups and networks of social actors who work to meet the most pressing needs of the community. This kind of community organizing has proven essential in disaster preparedness and mitigation.
Following the 2007 earthquake in Peru, our partner LUNDÚ helped lead efforts to secure emergency services and supplies in El Carmen a, one of the areas most affected by the disaster. To find out more about relief efforts from organizations working on the health and rights of women and girls in Haiti, visit: