Women, ICT and emergency telecommunications – opportunities and constraints
In the wake of a disaster, women are more vulnerable and more likely to die than men. Yet how often are their needs specifically addressed in work to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters, even though doing so could unlock many opportunities and unblock many constraints? In the 1991 cyclones that hit Bangladesh, 90 per cent of the 140 000 victims were women. In the deadly heat waves that hit France in 2003, most fatalities were elderly women. During the 2005 Hurricane Katrina emergency in New Orleans, most of the victims were Afro-American women and their children. And yet again, with the COVID-19 pandemic, women are bearing the brunt; not only because they represent an estimated 70 per cent of frontline healthcare workers and undertake most of the care work in the home, but because their over-representation in the informal economy and lower pay rates mean they are significantly harder hit by the economic downturn. In such times of crises, access to accurate information is life-saving and life-changing for women, their families and their communities. Their perspectives and experiences, as well as their ability to organize, lobby and inform, can dramatically improve disaster risk management. That is why we need more innovative and culturally sensitive approaches to empowering women and girls through digital networks, platforms and technologies.
International Telecommunications Unit (ITU) and Emergency Telecommunications Cluster
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