When the disaster strikes: Gendered (im)mobility in Bangladesh

  • 2020•05•25

    Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson

    Gender influences people’s behaviour in various ways. This study investigates gendered (im)
    mobility during cyclone strikes in Bangladesh. During such strikes people have described being
    unable to move away from environmentally high-risk locations and situations. The Q-based
    Discourse Analysis used by this study shows how and why gender-roles (im)mobilised people in
    three coastal locations during the cyclones. People (and especially women) explained that failing
    to evacuate to the cyclone shelters when a disaster strikes was not uncommon. Gender, or
    feminine and masculine social roles, played a significant role in these evacuation decisions while
    facilitating or constraining their mobility. The gendered subjectivities presented different accepted social behaviours and spaces for women and men. In this way, immobility (social, psychological, and geographical) was strongly gendered. Masculine roles were expected to be brave
    and protective, while female ‘mobility’ could be risky. Women’s mobility therefore ended up
    being constrained to the home. In other words, when the disaster strikes, everyone did not have
    the same ability to move. These empirical insights are important to inform climate policy in a
    way that it better supports vulnerable populations worldwide as they confront global environmental changes today and in the future.

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