International Development Planning Review

Empowerment in the era of resilience-building: gendered participation in community-based (disaster) risk management in the Philippines

International Development Planning Review (2019), 41, (2), 129–148.

Abstract

As the economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent in the Philippines, community-based approaches to disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) have become the new orthodoxy, framed by narratives of participation, empowerment and resilience. Among the urban poor, state-endorsed risk reduction interventions are often facilitated via homeowner associations, with women serving as critical drivers of grass-roots action within these spaces. This article interrogates whether these community-based mobilisations are serving to address or exacerbate gendered inequalities that underpin vulnerabilities to risk. I argue that grass-roots ‘resilience-building’ and community-based DRRM are decidedly gendered in practice, and reveal complex dynamics whereby participation in these activities is reinforcing gendered inequalities and power differentials while simultaneously facilitating positive personal transformations among female members. The findings of this study reinforce the importance of understanding the socio-spatial manifestations of gender roles, power and agency to the development of inclusive DRRM and ‘resilience-building’ strategies.

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Ramalho, Jordana