When Traditional Power Structures are Trembling : A qualitative analysis of aid agencies focus on gender roles and contribution to potential changes in those following the earthquakes in Nepal 2015.

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: This thesis examines how and to what extent humanitarian aid organizations strategically focus on gender roles following disasters, and how they contribute to potential changes in gender roles. The case selected for the study is Nepal after the 2015 earthquakes where the reports of four international humanitarian aid organizations were examined through a qualitative content analysis. The thesis aims to provide a contribution to the disaster risk reduction literature with a special focus on the possibilities to use disasters as catalysts for changes in traditional gender roles. As humanitarian organizations are major actors in the aftermath of disasters, the purpose is to evaluate their efforts and connect that to previous literature in the field. As a theoretical foundation two contrasting theories are incorporated in the study, the first is the idea that a disaster can be a ’window of opportunity’ for changes in gender roles whereas the other one is that vulnerable people is often left more vulnerable after a disaster due to secondary consequences, a so called double disaster.  The main findings of the study demonstrate that none of the four international humanitarian organizations incorporated a gendered perspective in their aid efforts following the earthquakes in Nepal 2015. The organizations seldom separate women from men in their reports, demonstrating an unawareness of the gender power structures at play. Few activities had a potential to empower women and the ones that did lacked a long-term perspective to enhance gender equality and lower vulnerability.

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