Preliminary assessment of the gender aspects of disaster vulnerability and loss of human life in South Africa
Chirenda, Tatenda G
Srinivas, Chandra S S
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South Africa has reached a medium level of human development and has a heterogeneous situation with respect to disaster risk management. In this article, a preliminary assessment of the gender aspects of disaster vulnerability and fatalities is presented. The United Nations, the Health Systems Trust and Statistics South Africa were used as data sources for the following gender-segregated values: the life expectancy at birth, unemployment rates, the human development index values, the maternal mortality rates and the number of deaths from unnatural and non-natural causes. The relevant inequality indices were then calculated and used to draw conclusions regarding the gender aspects of disaster risk management in South Africa. Results of the calculations indicate that between 1980 and 2011 men were 10% more vulnerable with respect to their health status. However, the gender differences have been decreasing in recent years. Access of women to healthcare is decreasing with time, potentially decreasing the recovery potential of whole families. Women are more economically vulnerable than men in South Africa, as they are 16.3% – 33% more likely to be unemployed than men. Educational status of both genders in South Africa is comparable based on literacy and enrollment rates at primary and secondary level. On the other hand, men are five times more likely to suffer fatal injuries during disasters.