Thurairajah, N., Amaratunga, Dilanthi and Haigh, Richard (2011) Empowerment revisited: will it address marginalised positions of women in post disasters? In: International Conference on Building Resilience 2011: Interdisciplinary approaches to disaster risk reduction, and the development of sustainable communities and cities, 19-21st July 2011, Kandalama, Sri Lanka.. (Unpublished)

World is faced with frequent natural disasters and the magnitude of impact that they cause lead
to major concerns in many fields. The need to focus on community engagement and
enhancement of society‟s capacity to withstand disasters in order to reduce damage to both
human and material resources has been highly emphasised. Recent studies have reflected the
need for gender consideration in disaster management, and emphasised its importance in
building disaster resilient communities. Within the post disaster stage, the impact of natural
disasters and the consequent partial reconstruction efforts have presented many challenges to
women. Hence, there is a need to enhance women‟s position within post disaster context.
Further, many studies have acknowledged that although women are disproportionately affected
by these disasters, their role in preventing and mitigating the effects of natural disasters is not
well explored. Within this context, the main research investigates into empowerment of women
during post disaster reconstruction in Sri Lanka.
Since disasters affect women and men differently and in practice a larger share of benefits of
disaster management goes to men, women continue to remain marginalised. Post disaster
reconstruction which is, the reconstruction process after a disaster, can provide windows of
opportunity for development not only to reconstruct the impacted areas, but also to improve
these conditions of the affected population. Although earlier studies have recognised the
importance of the concept of empowerment in marginalised conditions literature related to post
disaster barely identifies the linkage between the concept and its suitability. Hence this paper
seeks to explore these marginalised positions of women in post disasters, examines the concept
of empowerment and explores its suitability to address the difficulties of women by bringing
forward the evidences from other fields of study. This study has been based on a theoretical as
well as practical ideas obtained through a comprehensive literature review and interviews
carried out among experts within the practice in Sri Lanka.

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