Report Summary

South Asian countries largely fail to consider the rights of women to be included in their disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience-building efforts, finds a new index published by The Economist Intelligence Unit. Explore our interactive tool with summary findings and case studies related to the index.

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This is despite women being more adversely affected by disasters (an estimated four times as many women as men died in India and Sri Lanka in the 2004 tsunami, for instance) and despite numerous examples of their capacity to lead such efforts (there are some 3m women’s self-help groups registered in India alone).

The Women’s Resilience Index (WRI), commissioned by ActionAid, with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, assesses the extent of women’s involvement in preparing for and recovering from disasters in eight countries (including Japan as a comparator).

Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, the Maldives and Bangladesh achieve an overall score in a relatively narrow band of 40-46.4 (out of 100)—half of the score awarded to Japan.  Pakistan emerges as a lower outlier in the WRI, with an overall score of 27.8.

More so than elsewhere in the region, women in Pakistan are highly restricted in their access to credit; large swathes of the population lack everyday access to sanitation facilities and healthcare; and social and cultural attitudes restrict women’s mobility and access to education.

Research for the WRI shows that to bolster resilience in these disaster-prone countries, policymakers need to empower women economically (for instance by improving their access to credit) as a first step towards including them in local DRR planning as decision makers. 

Why read this report

  • Six of eight countries included in new EIU South Asia Women’s Resilience Index (WRI) score in range between 40 and 46.4 out of 100. (Japan, included as a developed-country benchmark, scores 80.6.)
  • Pakistan fares worse—scoring 27.8—owing to higher economic, social and institutional barriers to women’s participation in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience-building
  • WRI shows need to empower women economically, improve monitoring of gender-specific DRR targets, and tackle high levels of violence against women in South Asia
South Asian countries need to realise the tremendous capacity for leadership women have in planning for and responding to disasters. They are at the ‘front line’ and have intimate knowledge of their communities. Wider recognition of this could greatly reduce disaster risk and improve the resilience of these communities.
David Line, Managing Editor, The Economist Intelligence Unit


Published:November 22nd 2014

David Line

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