The earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015 had a tragic impact on life, livestock and property. According to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment report (PDNA), prepared by the National Planning Commission, more than 9,000 people were killed and 22,300 people were injured whereas according to the Nepal Earthquake Humanitarian Report, more than 600,000 houses were destroyed and another 290,000 were damaged.
However, this paper goes beyond impact of the earthquake in the immediate aftermath in order to evaluate how it affected existing marginalized groups and to what extent were their existing vulnerabilities further exacerbated. This paper discusses and analyses the impact of the April earthquake on women and young girls and women with disabilities. The paper demonstrates the cross-sectional impact of the earthquake on women by assessing their position in the society determined by their gender, class, caste, age, political patronage, and physical disability. With data collected from the field, the paper aims to highlight the additional burden of a natural disaster on women in relation to their role as mothers and primary caregivers within the family unit.
The paper also offers critical insight on disaster preparedness in Nepal and how women suffer due to the lack of basic necessities such as water, access to healthcare services and suitable living conditions that guarantee privacy or a right to personal space and dignity. By focusing on the problems that directly affected women in the aftermath of the earthquake, the paper also highlights the shortcomings in the national policy of Reconstruction and Rebuilding by looking at how gender sensitive the provisions are, especially in relation to discriminatory provisions around receiving government aid and support for reconstruction and rebuilding.
The paper goes on to offer recommendations informed by the research, that can contribute to future disaster preparedness plans to ensure the specific concerns of women and women with disabilities do not get side-lined.