Gender equality is increasingly being recognized as an important factor that influences households’ and communities’ ability to cope with shocks.
Gender-based inequality influences women’s and men’s vulnerability, resilience capacities, and well-being outcomes. Growing evidence on the differences between men and women in their exposure to shocks and access to resources to manage shocks underlines the importance of gender equality.
Gender based differences between men and women in their vulnerability, mobility, time use, and ownership and control of income, assets, and other resources affect how they cope with a particular shock or stress. Men and women can experience vulnerability from different sources; men are generally more vulnerable to migration risks and recruitment to extremist groups, while women often have less control over assets and face biology-related vulnerabilities. Men and women also sometimes respond differently to shocks.
Empowering women has been found to be particularly influential to household resilience. Women with higher levels of empowerment are less likely to use negative coping mechanisms and household where women have higher levels of decision-making power are more likely to have higher levels of food security and social capital.
A growing body of evidence shows the importance of women’s empowerment as a resilience capacity. Following exposure to flooding in 2014, Bangladeshi women with high empowerment maintained household food security for a longer period compared to women with low empowerment scores. A study in Somalia found that women’s empowerment was significantly and positively associated with the use of proactive coping strategies.
Future research on gender equality in resilience should include the differentiating vulnerabilities and capacities of men and boys as well, as an exclusive focus on women’s empowerment in building resilience may result in missed opportunities to fully understand how gender dynamics interact with resilience.