Conflict, displacement and natural disasters are experienced differently by men and women from the different risks and vulnerabilities they face during disasters to their changing roles, relationships, responsibilities and resources in preparing for and coping with crisis. Despite this differences between men's and women's needs are t always fully integrated into humanitarian interventions. Addressing gender issues from the outset can make the difference between success and failure. This collection of articles explores the interface between gender and humanitarian work. Several contributors focus on humanitarian activity during natural disasters or analyse responses to conflict. Others consider the post-crisis period of reconstruction and provide lessons and recommendations for conflict resolution and peace-building. While the difficulties of integrating gender equity goals into interventions are ackwledged, the authors argue that gender-blind responses can further endanger the survival of women and their families and their long term position in society and also deny them the opportunity of exercising their potential as peace-builders.
Caroline Sweetman is Editor of the international journal Gender & Development and works for Oxfam GB.