The Significance of the Gender Division of Labor in Assessing Disaster Impacts: A Case Study of Hurricane Mitch and Hillside Farmers in Honduras

August 2002 (VOL. 20, NO. 2)

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To date, most disaster study and practice have not explicitly considered the different roles, needs, and experiences of women and men in response to disasters. Disaster research that does incorporate gender analysis often concludes that the needs, experiences, and contributions of men and women in disaster situations are distinct. In this paper, we present a case study analysis of the agricultural and domestic impacts of Hurricane Mitch among rural, hillside farmers in Honduras, disaggregated by gender. Our research incorporates empirical data from 68 households and reveals that men and women reported similar physical impacts, but that they evaluated these impacts differently depending on where the impact fell within the gender division of labor. Our main conclusion is that impact evaluation and disaster policy must include a consideration of disaster impacts as they are filtered through the actual and normative gender division of labor, in order to determine the degree of priority or severity assigned to impacts.