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International Recovery Platform

Women's Empowerment Following Disaster: a Longitudinal Study of Social Change

This paper examines changes in gender relations in a small coastal community as a result of the 2010 Chile earthquake and tsunami. Vulnerability and resilience are used as a conceptual framework to analyse these changes. Based on empirical evidence from a seven-year longitudinal study and quasi-ethnographic work, this paper explores changes in power relations at the different stages of the disaster and longer-term recovery as well as the conditions that fostered these changes. The findings show distinct patterns of change. First, disasters can trigger long-lasting changes that challenge historical patriarchal relations. Second, while vulnerability increases following a disaster, resilience can potentially counteract women's vulnerability. This paper proposes that resilience can be a pathway to produce long-term changes in gender relations and empower women in the context of disasters.

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