From Civil Society to Urban Environmental Risk Management - Role of Women beyond Natural Disaster

From Civil Society to Urban Environmental Risk Management: Role of Women beyond Natural Disaster

Undoubtedly women spend more time at home and in their neighbourhood than do men. They are not only concerned with themselves and their families, but their well-being is also closely connected to communities. Considering their roles in reproductive, productive and social activities, women's position in the urban environment goes beyond the domestic domain, spilling over into the public domain where urban civil society takes part.
It is known/ Studies have found that most women, especially those from low income backgrounds face disadvantages when dealing with urban environmental issues. If urban settlements lack acceptable sanitary facilities, women (and their children) face greater adverse effects than men. They are more vulnerable to hazards linked to environmental risk and their impact on urban poverty.
In managing urban environmental risks, participatory approaches which include civil society are important. Women are part of civil society, yet compared to men they remain invisible to the public sphere. It is therefore essential to identify the role of women in civil society, and to further assess their involvement in performing environmental management activities. Urban environmental issues include the impacts of natural disaster, and rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation processes can lead to e.g. physical, social and economical changes which have an impact on risk, especially if no adequate mitigation and rehabilitation strategies are in place. Their multiple roles expose women to significantly different risks than men. At the urban scale, vulnerability is not only related to physical, but also to social susceptibility and lack of resilience of communities (Cardona, 2003 and Rebotier, 2009).
Based on keywords women - urban civil society - urban environmental risk management, this paper is purposely focused on two points:
  1. The contribution and role of women as actors in urban civil society. It will be analysed which roles women play in civil society, and which capabilities and what chances they have as as a part of civil society. The core hypothesis is that women's influence in civil society depends on access and their opportunities to manage environmental risk.

  2. Women's role in managing urban environmental risk is especially crucial in the aftermath of natural disasters. Women's strategies and their contributions to civil society and whether the outcomes of these strategies are sustainable, will be investigated.

As a conclusion it will be discussed whether women participate in civil society and whether they have potentials in managing environmental risk, in order to show that women are also central to urban planning and development.

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