Collective Ignorance of Gender Issues During Recent Floods in Kashmir
21 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 2, 2014
The Jammu and Kashmir state has witnessed the worst ever flash floods in the last 109 years. The devastating floods that broke out during the beginning of September 2014, have affected over two million people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Over 550,000 people have been displaced and living in camps. Thousands have lost their homes, crops and livestock. With infrastructure destroyed, hospitals, schools, shops and local administrative units have all been badly damaged, and thousands have lost everything they owned. Devastating floods in Jammu & Kashmir have caused an immediate loss of Rs 5,400-5,700 crore to the state's economy, with heavy damages to trade, hotels, restaurants, horticulture and handicraft, according to initial estimates of industry body Assocham.
However, impact of disaster on community varies according to caste, class and gender as affordability of copying mechanism varies. Looking at the gender imbalances, the gender issue has largely been ignored during disaster work in Kashmir. Women particularly from marginalized communities were ignored in addressing their issues after floods. The main issue of their livelihood is ignored making them prone to various vulnerabilities.
In rural areas most of the women have small landholdings/livestock which are the main source of income generation. In urban areas, the marginalized communities like Scheduled castes work as agricultural labours or have taken land on lease and generate income from it. However, due to the recent floods the land cultivating by rural women is washed away by water, destroying all crops, livestock and left them without any sustainable source of livelihood. Similarly in urban areas, the agricultural women labourers have no option for getting work as land, crops and livestock are swept away by floods, thus left them without any work.
Moreover, winters in Kashmir are approaching very soon and ends in March 2015. During this period the whole valley is surrounded by snow. Everything is standstill and becomes hard for women, engaged in agriculture, to generate income from the land which is already destroyed by flood. Thus floods together with upcoming winters will impact gravely on income generation of these women which lasts for many months. This long and harsh period of winter adds more economic miseries to the Women Flood Vicitms (WFV)
Therefore, it is need of the time to chalk out the major programmes and policies for creating new livelihood options for WFV who have been gravely affected due to cultural constraints like low mobility, lack of decision making power, Violence against Women and less ownership in land. The main aim to generate new livelihood options is to minimize disparities in terms socio-economic development of flood women victim and give them other sustainable livelihood options.
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