Examining humanitarian aid through the gender lens

Examining humanitarian aid through the gender lens

Women are especially hard-hit by the social impacts of environmental disasters. Gender inequality in social, economic and political spheres often results in vast differences between men and women in disasters.  

These inequalities are often manifested in household decisions about the use of relief assets, voluntary relief and recovery work, as well as access to evacuation shelter and relief goods. Women are particularly vulnerable because they have fewer resources in their own right and under their own control. They have no permanent place in decision- they suffer traditional, routine and gratuitous gender-biased oppression. Their care giving roles expand dramatically after a disaster. Their special health needs, in fact especially those of pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls are ignored.

Hence, examining relief activities through a gender lens is critical to delivering the most effective and well-rounded humanitarian response possible. One such need of women and adolescent girls are their menstrual hygiene needs. In the advent of a disaster, they usually have no access to sanitary pads or cloths. We customise our relief items considering the menstrual hygiene needs of the women by discussing with them their preferences and needs.

 During South India Flood Response, we had distributed sanitary cloth in the initial period based on our assessment. Later, when the programme phased into early recovery period, we realised that the needs of women and adolescent girls were different. The women in the older reproductive age group used sanitary cloth while the adolescent girls used sanitary pad. Therefore, we tried to explore other ways in which we could meet the menstrual hygiene needs of the adolescent girls. Thereafter, we did an emergency market mapping analysis and intervened with an innovative markets based WASH (Water, Sanitatio and Hygiene) intervention i.e. commodity vouchers, which were redeemable for sanitary napkins. This way, we could meet the menstrual hygiene needs of the girls and support the local economy.


Every year, people of Assam and other neighbouring states of North-East, face devastating floods. You can help rebuild their lives. Donate to save a life.

Humanitarian Response and DRR

Oxfam India saves lives by building the resilience of communities to disasters and conflict

Read More

Related Blogs


Stories that inspire us

Humanitarian Response and DRR

09 Mar, 2020


Government of Odisha releases Climate Budget 2020-2021

Oxfam India’s sustained efforts have resulted in the Government of Odisha releasing 'Climate Budget 2020-2021'. The Government of Odisha has come out with an exclusive document ‘Cli...

Humanitarian Response and DRR

09 Dec, 2019

Uttar Pradesh

Rapid Needs Assessment for Unprecedented Floods in Uttar Pradesh

Context and Background Unprecedented Floods in the state of Uttar Pradesh during the late monsoon season this year has impacted many lives and livelihoods. Among the most affected ...

Humanitarian Response and DRR

14 Oct, 2019


Youth spearhead the #CleanPatnaDrive in Bihar

Oxfam India has begun response in Patna, which is reeling under the aftermath of floods. Almost 100 people have lost their lives and over 20 lakh are affected. Diseases have taken a...

Humanitarian Response and DRR

20 Aug, 2019

New Delhi

Oxfam India’s Response to Natural Disasters

Oxfam and later Oxfam India has spearheaded humanitarian responses in India for many decades now. Between 2008 (when Oxfam India became an independent affiliate) to 2019, Oxfam Ind...

img Become an Oxfam Supporter, Sign Up Today One of the most trusted non-profit organisations in India

The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.