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Women's Initiatives

Tools for Change: Emergency Management for Women

Lynn Orstad, 2001. 8 pp. Presentation to the UN DAW Expert Working Group on gender and disaster. Available through UNDAW:

The paper outlines the rationale for working with and through women’s groups to increase community resilience to disaster and offers a step-by-step guide for developing, training and sustaining neighborhood-based women’s preparedness networks. As described by Orstad: “ The Women’s Neighborhood Team can provide an effective first response capability. Acting as individuals first, ensuring that their family is safe and then later as part of the women’s team, trained women can make life saving differences in a disaster. Trained women can “fan-out” in their neighborhoods, putting out small fires, performing light search and rescue, and rendering basic first aid. As each woman’s neighborhood team is formed, its members select a team leader, and alternate who will work with members and their families to prepare and respond to disasters. The team will identify an emergency meeting location for families to gather to reunite after a disaster.
Women who encounter no need in their immediate area will take on assigned roles based on the overall area need and will assist other women and their families who find themselves in a heavily affected location. The skills must be reinforced through follow-up training and repeated practice in order to ensure an effective response in the face of an emergency or disaster. This training provides valuable networking for women’s groups in the local area.”


Key words: Canada, grassroots, women's groups, preparedness, emergency response, community planning

Disaster Watch

This innovative and wide-ranging grassroots initiative was undertaken by members of Grassroots Women’s Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood [GROOTS] working through the Huariou Commission to promote the growth & development of women - centered community based, post disaster response. Currently coordinated by Swayam Shikshan Prayog from India, Disaster Watch is supported by the New York based Huairou Commission.

Disaster Watch addresses the gender-based vulnerability of girls and women in disaster contexts with emphasis on how grassroots women organize to reduce vulnerability and participate actively in disaster reduction activities. A number of projects have been conducted based on the Disaster Watch model of peer learning through which disaster-affected women from one region travel to others to lend support and share information about successful practices in other regions by women’s groups. Resource papers, personal narratives, reports from partner organizations and other materials are available on the Disaster Watch website, including:

  • an evaluation of Disaster Watch activities [“Findings”:]
  • monthly Tsunami Updates contributed by GROOTS member SSP with excellent accounts otherwise unavailable from grassroots organizations responding to the tsunami [for example, see Face to Face with Women in Aceh, by Suranjana Gupta, September 2005.

Disaster Watch is also undertaking a documentation and action research project called Women's Lives, Women's Decisions: Supporting Affected Women to Rebuild After Katrina, described more fully below.

Disaster Brief Updates are available on-line with information from partnering organizations in disaster-affected regions about women’s initiatives. This is also available as an electronic newsletter through the Huairou Commission.

Key words: grassroots, women's group, NGO, relief, recovery, reconstruction, empowerment, practice, narratives

Memorandum to the Batticaloa Distric Disaster Operational Committee, Concerns of Displaced Women's Welfare and Rights

Jan. 12, 2005 Call to action from the Women’s Coalition for Disaster Management which includes 12 organizations. The public statement echoes the findings of gender-specific harm and exclusion after the tsunami and the male-dominated relief and recovery institutions. Noting that their concerns parallel those of the Sphere Guidelines for Humanitarian Assistance and other principles, supporters call for “the inclusion of women representativaes from the different resettlement locations, and women representativies from local women’s organikzations in all local and district level decision-making bodies.”

Source: Contact the Coalition at or c/o Suriya Women’s Development Centre (

Key words: Sri Lanka, women's group, grassroots, recovery, community

Women's groups appeal for an inclusive framework for disaster response

2 pp. Jan 1, 2005. Press release from a women’s collective. Noting the generosity of donors, this collective of women’s rights groups conducted fact finding missions and came together to focus attention on women’s safety and other neglected issues. This is a short appeal for more attention by government bodies and IGOs to gender based violence and women’s specific needs and concerns with short-and longer-term recommendations for tsunami responses “in the framework of sustainable development and a lasting and just peace.” Five groups signed the statement: Mothers and Daughters of Lanka, Sri Lanka Women’s NGO Forum, Women’s Alliance for Peace, Women’s Alliance for Peace and Democracy, Action Network for Migrant Workers.

Press release. Women and Media Collective, 20/1, 8th Lane, Nawala, Sri Lanka.
Telephone: 94 + 011 + 2805127 / 2805579
Contact persons are: Sepali Kottegoda and Kumudini Samuel

Key words: Sti Lanka, women's groups, grassroots, recovery, tsunami, gender violence, livelihood

Gender Specific Issues Relating To Post Tsunami Displacement

Coalition of Tsumami Affected Women, Briefing Note 2. 15 January 2005.  7 pp. Challenged by reports aired during a meeting sponsored by the Women and Media Collective in Colombo that violence against women and girls was occurring (and being dismissed or denied by many), members of CATAW organized fact-finding teams to visit women residing in temporary camps about their safety or safety concerns. Methodological considerations are raised as well as political concerns about researching gender violence in disasters and concrete recommendations offered. Two short reports annexed to this report provide illustrative case material from two women. Also see Information Gathering on Incidents of Violence Against Women Reported in Areas Affected by the Tsuami: Visit to Galle and Ambalangoda Area.

Key words: Sri Lanka, tsumami, women's group, gender violence

Breaking the Wave of Silence: How Women are Regrouping in the Aftermath of the Tsunami

Flower Aceh , 2005. 2 pp. Short statement summing up the unmet needs of women post-tsunami and the coordinated action of women’s groups in Indonesia including Flower Aceh, a leading coalition of women’s organizations long active in Banda Aceh.

Key words: Sri Lanka, tsunami, women's group, women's empowerment, emergency response, reconstruction, grassroots

Tsunami Update: Groots/SSP

Groots Disaster Watch website provides regular updates provided by SWAYAM SHIKSHAN PRAYOG (SSP) in India on women’s issues and responses, for example in the September 5, 2005 issue below with these entries:

In August 2005, nearly eight months after the tsunami, Jo Vicente Angeles , Tessie Fernandes , Sri Husnaini Sofjan and Suranjana Gupta met women in Aceh on behalf of the Huairou Commission and Groots International. Read more...

In the aftermath of the tsunamis, ITDGPractical Action is drawing on this experience and concentrating on: Influencing and strengthening reconstruction plans to consider disaster preparedness and cost effective options. Read more...

A study on the status of life in temporary shelters was undertaken recently by the Swayam Shikshan Prayog, the Covenant Centre for Development and the People Science Institute. The study was conducted in temporary shelters in the Sirkali and the Tharangambadi talukas of Nagapattinam District. Read more...

By Colin Gonsalves
A blinkered bureaucracy has proved to be utterly insensitive to the Andaman and Nicobar islanders. Instead of helping them rebuild their lives and revive self-confidence, the government is reinforcing practices of dependence and subservience while pushing its warped version of relief and redevelopment. Read more...

Dilip D'Souza.Eight months since the December 2004 tsunami, Dilip D'Souza returned to Nagore near Nagapattinam, Tamilnadu, to find that plenty of boats donated by NGOs were poorly built. As 'relief', many fishermen received boats that leak and one boat reportedly split under their feet on its first trip out to sea. Read more...

The public response to the Tsunami in South Asia was unprecedented. Because of the public's generosity, Oxfam has reached 1.1 million people in seven countries with emergency aid and long-term reconstruction help during the first three months of 2005. Read more...

In its effort to provide long-term rehabilitation to those who escaped with nothing but their lives, the TRC has undertaken a massive initiative to reconstruct villages and homes. The Committee will build 77 dwelling units of about 350 sq. ft. built-up area in Covelong. Read more...

This report marks the mid-year update on UNFPA's activities following the massive devastation caused by the Indian Ocean Tsunami on December 26th 2004. Read more...

While Indira Nagar SHG members have demonstrated much more initiative than SHG members in other Tsunami affected villages, and their husbands support them in their activities, neither the Union nor the Traditional Panchayats work with them or even support their work. Read more...

Case study from a district level network of women's organisations - Batticaloa. This paper describes the changing social roles for women and how this impacts their experience of receiving tsunami relief. The information for this presentation is gathered from a household survey conducted by the Suriya Women's Development Centre in March 2005. Read more...

Centre for Social Reconstruction. The initial plan was to continue the mental health activities for 6 months. However the term was extended to another 6 months. With a view to bringing more communities under the purview of mental health the domain of assistance was gradually spread to six more villages with a total strength of 16 counselors. Read more...

Key words: Gender analysis, grassroots, research, community, recovery, tsunami, practice, policy, women's group, NGO

Antiviolence initiatives: Hurricane Katrina

Anticipating the increased vulnerability of hurricane-affected women to all forms of gender-based violence, US coalitions and antiviolence providers organized in the immediate aftermath to provide direct assistance to survivors of violence and the hurricane and to support affected staff members. Examples include:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Website provides links for Katrina survivors to services and information. Also includes a link to the shortened version of the longer paper of the same name by Elaine Enarson, Surviving Domestic Violence and Disaster. See NCADV:

Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Website includes information about how programs were affected and how the coalition is responding. One example is the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund:

New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. Short article pointing out women’s vulnerability to gender-based violence with links and resources:
MADRE website, updated regularly to reflect events affecting women around the globe, including disasters. See for example, 'After Disaster Relief: 10 Pointers for Charitable Giving that Sustains Social Change' :

National Congress of Neighborhood Women

This coalition of faith-based and secular women’s groups has been identify women’s particular needs and interests and working through GROOTs and the Disaster Watch program to collaborate with hurricane-affected women to document their experiences and to promote their full and equal participation in reconstruction.

Key words: US, community, grassroots, recovery, hurricane

Quake relief brings US Muslim women together

2 pp. October 20, 2005. Allison Stevens for Women’s Enews. “During Ramadan, Muslim women in the U.S. have been mustering aid for people hurt by the earthquake in Pakistan. Some say the experience will bring a diverse community closer together. . . Quoting one of the American Muslim women involved in fundraising for emergency relief in Pakistan: "Have we stepped up to our own leadership capacity?. . . The answer is no, we have not stepped out and organized ourselves as women . . . I certainly think that we are going to be more in touch and more organized, just because this has forced it. Therefore it will help us organize in a sustainable fashion, not just when there's a crisis." This exemplifies the “window of opportunity” for change that disastrous events make possible. Available through Women’s eNews:

Key words: Mediau, grassroots, US, Pakistan, earthquake

U.S Human Rights Network Collaborative Documentation Project

The US Human Rights Network was formed to promote US accountability to universal human rights standards. Spearheaded by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative of the U.S. Human Rights Network, this documentation project is designed to gather stories and testimonies needed to produce briefing documents and educational materials for advocacy work related to the crisis with attention to the human rights of Katrina survivors. The Network intends to provide training and technical assistance for participating organizations and long-term monitoring. The documentation project is described on the organization’s website:

Key words: Narrative, human rights, US, hurricane Katrina, research

Women's Lives, Women's Decisions: Supporting Affected Women to Rebuild After Katrina

Spearheaded by The National Congress of Neighborhood Women, a member of GROOTS International (described earlier), this project will identify grassroots women leaders from poor communities and partners (faith based activists, researchers, and planners) to engage with women who have had their lives disrupted by Hurricane Katrina and are now attempting to restore their families and communities. GROOTS has developed a kit for use by voluntary community researchers to help affected women record their stories and speak about their visions of the future and strategies for realizing these.

For more information,contact: Shannon Hayes, The Huairou Commission, 249 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211,T: 718-388-8915, F: 718-388-0285, Email:

Key words: US, grassroots, research, hurricane Katrina

Living Learning Centers

Coordinated through GROOTS International and the Huairou Commission, a growing number of community-based groups and organizations with a focus on women’s empowerment and social justice are using their community centers as an organizing and respite site for women caught up in Katrina. As described on the Groots website:

Neighborhood Women House, Brooklyn NY
Houses the global offices of GROOTS International and the Huairou Commission, as well as serving as the administrative seat of NCNW. NW House will provide a number of links. Locally, the New York City Public Housing Residence Alliance in New York will link to and provide support for displaced women from throughout the country who have been evacuated and want to organize to have a larger voice in the reconstruction of their homes. GROOTS International will provide links to its resources and an international team of women who have led disaster to development responses throughout the world.

The Huairou Commission will provide links to technical support through its links to planners and architects. Huairou will also play a leading role in facilitating disaster watches, where students can travel to Hurricane-affected areas to engage with and support women as they cope and rebuild.

Woman Spirit House, St. Louis, MO.
Will serve as a center for rest and reflection for displaced African-American leaders from New Orleans and other Hurricane-affected areas. Woman Spirit, Inc., a member of NCNW, will provide leadership support for these women and will link them to the wider network that will help them to take part in advocating for a women-centered rebuilding of their communities.

Clearfork Community Institute, Appalachia TN
This LLC will use its experience to work with communities of fisher-folk in Louisiana on livelihoods restoration out of its home-base—the Clearfork Community Institute in Appalachia, TN. Women of Clearfork have already begun to respond to Katrina through their relationship with Southern Mutual Help Association. Dialogue between women from Clearfork and women from Southern Mutual Help Association provided a list of things needed for the victims of Katrina and Ruth that hit many small fishing and farming communities in Lousiana. They agreed to find people who could lend support to the redevelopment, from construction needs and house models to home mortgages and small business loans. Clearfork will support these efforts with crews of young volunteers to do clean up, fill out forms, and record oral histories through its connection with Berea College.

Recommendations for Tsunami Victims

National Commission for Women and Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women. Advocacy piece from women in and out of government based on gender analysis of tsunami relief and recovery practices.

Key words: India, tsunami, grassroots, IGO, practice

Women from tsunami-hit districts in five countries meet to address gender concerns in reconstruction

With UNDP sponsorship, more than a hundred women from tsunami-affected countries in the region gathered for two days to discuss common issues and how to share resources and strategies during the lengthy recovery period ahead. Violence against women was one of the issues most commonly raised in this meeting which was held in an impacted neighborhood with translation rather than the capital city.

UNIFEM's executive director met with many of the civil society organizations working in Aceh, Indonesia, more than 70% of them women’s groups or groups staffed mainly by young women. This press release from UNEFM notes the 4 critical issues raised by the first Acehnese women’s meeting since the tsunami, including livelihood restoration, land title, adequate housing, and full participation as decision makers in the reconstruction process.

Key words: Women's groups, grassroots, recovery, IGO, tsunami

Tsunami-affected women organizing

Short accounts of women’s organizing following disaster events

Women on Top:

Women and the Tsunami: Ensuring Effective Reconstruction:

Women from tsunami-hit districts in five countries meet to address gender concerns in reconstruction:

As Tsunami Recedes, Women's Risks Appear:

Women called on to help women victims:

Turkish Women Association: Projects

Projects in Izmit for earthquake-affected women incude a Social Centre

With the sponsorship of TURBAN, three 300m2 prefabricated rooms were constructed. Various activities are being carried out in these prefabricated rooms since April 2000.

  • Sewing and embroidery courses
  • Meeting to inform women about contraception, menopause and women health (In co-operation with Mother and Child Help Foundation)
  • Child care centre for children of 4-6 ages
  • English courses for children of 7-12 ages
  • Journalism courses are supported by UNICEF for adolescents of 4-18 ages
  • Regular meetings are carried out with mothers and children
  • Etudes for adolescents (In co-operation with Solidarity Volunteers)

Key words: Turkey, NGO, women's group, earthquake, livelihood, recovery, capacity building

Soroptimist Club in Izmit, Turkey

Soroptimist International: Izmit, Turkey
This international women’s group undertakes numerous projects in support of gender-aware disaster preparedness and emergency response. One such project took place in Izmit, Turkey following the earthquake there.

In co-operation with Bekirpasa Municipality, the Social Training Centre was established in Bekirpasa in May 2000. In this centre, English, accountancy, computer, sewing, handcraft, furnishing, and nutrition courses are given by the educators of Public Education Centre. Besides these courses, diction, ebru, wood-painting courses have been given since October. Also, painting, educator mother, first aid courses will be conducted by volunteers. Bekirpasa Municipality provides permanent bazaar place for selling women’s products.



Key words: Turkey, women's group, preparedness, response, community, INGO

Women's Tents, Production Workshops and the Social Center (WSF)

The “Women’s Tents” built in Golcuk and Duzce in September 1999 were the initial steps of solidarity at the earthquake region. In order to meet the needs identified during counseling, training and similar activities at the tents, WSF launched the Candle and Home Textile Workshops in May 2000 at Golcuk-Sirinkoy prefabricated housing area. Soon enough, these women who had not participated in production before, managed to increase the quality of production and the variety of design. They experienced the pleasure of exhibiting their products at important fairs, marketing them to major stores and contributing to the family budget for the first time. 36 women involved with the workshop production, founded the “Fiskos- Women’s Cooperative of Environment, Culture and Enterprise” in September 2001 and have continued their work thereafter.

The Women’s Social Center in Gölcük- Sirinköy, housed a wide range of activities for each and every woman. Organization of Computer, Literacy, Creativity and Art Production Trainings, Theatre-Drama Activities; provision of Psychological Counseling, Legal Consultation support for women and children; and seminars such as Reproductive and Sexual Health and Disaster Preparedness were among the services of the Center. Activities were carried out until December 2002 while close to 1500 women and children participated in the process.

For more information: contact WSF member Zelal Ayman :

Key words: Turkey, women's group, grassroots, capacity building, earthquake

Improving Security: Women Building Hurricane Shelters

This project, directed by Ce Mujer, a woman's NGO in the Dominican Republic, was able to fund the building of 58 “security modules”, or anti hurricane shelters, next to the homes of women belonging to local CBOs in the communities of Guerra and Los Llanos, communities located in the south east of the Dominican Republic, close to the capital city of Santo Domingo. The Women`s Federation of Guerra (Federación de Mujeres de Guerra) donated building materials to vulnerable women of the community, such as elderly women, single mothers, women in extreme poverty, all living in communities where shelters are nonexistent. The shelters were constructed by women albañiles or constructors, trained through Ce Mujer initiatives and belonging to the local womens CBOs. 

Key words: Dominican Republic, housing construction, womenís group, grassroots, NGO

Women's Solidarity Foundation: Projects

Foundation for Solidarity with Women (KADAV).
Contacts: Zelal Ayman:; Melek Gündogan;

Women’s Solidarity Foundation (WSF) is a women’s organization established shortly after the August 17, 1999 earthquake in the Gulf of Marmara by a broad women’s platform gathered in Istanbul to be in solidarity with the women debilitated and left without socio-economic support after the earthquake. Throughout its operation in the earthquake region the WSF has developed and executed mid and long ranged projects and still continues their implementation. The Istanbul based Foundation has 40 members including its founders, 15 active volunteers and project staff.

The goal of WSF, which become a legal entity in July 2001, is to formulate instruments and opportunities providing women with power and freedom and enabling women’s economic and social empowerment and to prepare consciousness raising activities against economic violence and to establish solidarity in every field.

Concurrently, as an active constituent of the Women’s Movement in Turkey WSF participates in women’s platforms and campaign groups that have been gaining more ground especially in the past few years. WSF who has partaken in the Women’s Platform on the Civil Code, a potent group since 2000, is currently in the Women’s Platform on the Turkish Penal Code and also in platforms against violence.
(The information above is given by Zelal Ayman, who is a member of WSF,

Projects in Izmit include assistance to women in acquiring a profession and income generating programs. These include courses for helping women to gain professional skills which continue in “Women House” in Sirinkoy prefabrics, including:

  • Computer courses
  • Tailoring and Sewing Courses
  • Home Textiles Producing
  • Candle Producing
  • Silver Producing

Key words: Turkey, NGO, earthquake, recovery, capacity building, grassroots, practice, policy

Foundation for the Support of Women's Work: Projects

FSWW, whose central office is in Istanbul and has been operating since 1986, aims to support women's efforts to be economically independent and to increase their life quality. In addition, the Foundation's main goal is to expand all kinds of services, which would render women's active participation to every aspect of the public life possible.

Projects in Izmit following the earthquake include:

Woman Room
Women come together; discuss their common problems and demands and try to find solutions to these problems in woman rooms located in Izmit ( Uzunciftlik, Yesilova, Derince, Kullar, Gozlementepe), Adapazari, (Emirdag, Dernekkiri), and Duzce.

Child Care Centre
In woman rooms, there are child care centers with a capacity for 50 children of 3-4 and 5-6 ages. Besides the child care centers, 'neighborhood mother' program that serves mothers of 0-2 years old children is available.

Production of Ornaments from Waste Paper
In Izmit Gozlementepe and Derince Prefabricated housing complexes, necklaces, invitation cards, and various ornaments are produced from waste paper.

Women Carpenters
In Uzunciftlik and Derince, Turkey Prefabrics, there are two carpenter studios that are managed by women.

Cost Analysis Training
Women acquire practical financial knowledge necessary for carrying out these projects.

Empowerment of Women Decision-Making Process of Housing
The project which aims to increase the effectiveness of women on construction and control process of housing in earthquake area is in preparation stage now

Supporting Institutions and Associations

FSWW programs have also included Preparation for Disaster

After 17 August earthquake FSWW set up eight Women and Child Centers. In this center women take the opportunities for making visible their roles and leadership in the process of emergency relief, rehabilitation and restructuring

The women who established their cooperative named “Women, Environment, Culture and Enterprise” in Kocaeli, Sakarya and Duzce continue their business enterprises in locations in close proximity to the child care and educational services. In addition to these, they set up 4 “building societies”. With these building societies they try to develop a new understanding of district/settlement and residence.

FSWW based on its own experience developed capacity building programs and supporting materials. Some of them are:

  • Women’s preparation to disaster
  • For rehabilitation and restructuring after disaster defining requirements, gather and distribute information
  • Planning and applying basic services for women and children
  • Starting economic enterprises
  • Developing of partnerships

FWSS knew by its experience in Marmara earthquake area that woman play important roles in the process of emergency relief, rehabilitation and restructuring. On the other hand disaster gives new opportunities for women in entering the public sphere. FWSS also realized that it should approach the subject of disaster with a development perspective rather than emergency relief approach.

Since 1999 Marmara Earthquake, FWSS makes an effort for a development approach to be accepted by all parts and sectors that women and men should be put in the center in efforts of preparation for disasters and for post-disaster periods.

FWSS comes together with other countries’ similar women groups, share experiences, document these meetings, and works for local, national and international policy changes in this subject. In this extent it launched an initiative for Turkey’s Disaster Rapport.

FWSS’s work after the earthquake represents a new perspective and an effort for Turkey and for World. Women who are victims of the earthquake, who have loss both social and economical means and don’t have any chance to enter public space before the earthquake became an actor of development.

After the earthquake, FSWW with a development perspective launched a wide ranged effort simultaneously with humanity aid. The basic strategies of this participatory approach are;

  1. Set up centers where women and their children come together
  2. To provide women access to resources (material, economic and technical information and expertise)
  3. To introduce other women living in different countries in same conditions to these women
  4. To inform women on public policies and programs oriented to their regions

The tools FWSS used in this process include:

  • Education programs and materials
  • Exchange meetings
  • Investigation trips to national and international similar groups
  • Meeting for problem determination at district level
  • Routine meetings on coordination and evaluation
  • Meetings for dialogue with public administrators

For more information about the work of FSSW with quake-affected women, contact: or visit their website:

FWSS activities are also described for the UN DAW expert working group on gender and disaster by Sengül Akçar (2001, 15 pp), Grassroots Women’s Collectives – Roles in post – disaster effort: potential for sustainable partnership and good governance ((Lessons learned from the Marmara Earthquake). Online through UN DAW:

Key words: Turkey, capacity building, earthquake, recovery, empowerment, grassroots, women's group

The Association For Supporting Contemporary Living (CYDD)

Aim: The main objective of CYDD is to provide education opportunities. Women and youths are the primary target groups of the education service that association provides.

Projects in Izmit: Jam Production Centre: This project is tried to be realized in Izmit-Mehmetcik Tent-city with the support of a glass firm, Pasabahce

Project of Producing Carpets: In this project, which continued in Yalova Modern Life- Liveable City Prefabricated rooms, collected tissue pieces from different areas are transformed into carpet. The same project is tried to be continued in Izmit as well.

Benetton Knitting Project: In this project, which was conducted from September 1999 to June 2000, women victims of the earthquake knitted for Benetton.

Reading and Writing Courses: The respondents of these courses, who are mostly women, are tried to be informed about “Citizenship Consciousness and Women Rights” as well

Studies for Integration to city Life: The aim of this project was to help women to integrate to city life

Key words: Turkey, NGO, capacity building, education, earthquake

Degirmendere Women Support Cooperative: Projects

Projects in Izmit include:


  • In Nazim Çadirkent, "Woman and Earthquake" at 10 March
  • “Nutrition and Diet" with the participation of diet expert Emel Alpan.
  • 'Local Administration and Woman "with the participation of the Mayor of Degirmendere and Akin Atauz in April 2000.


  • In May and June, two training programs about 'Woman and Violence’ were conducted by support of Nezaket Özveri and Purple Roof Foundation for Women 'Shelter.
  • In June, a.10 day 'First Aid' training was given to 30 women with the support of Foundation for Human Health and Education.
    In March, a training program "When Do" about 'Individual Defense Techniques' was conducted by Tara Hopkins.

For Psychological Support:

  • In collaboration with Centre for Behavior Science and Treatment with the framework of psychological support a weekly group therapy has been conducted.


Key words: Turkey, NGO, training, capacity building, gender violence, media, earthquake, health

Women For Women's Human Rights

Aim: WFWHR, aims to set up knowledge resources about women's human rights in Turkey and also aims to transfer this knowledge to the women in Turkey.

Projects in Izmit:

The following projects are held by WFWHR in Kosekoy

  • Prefabricated Region
  • Reading and Writing Course: 20 women joined this course.
  • Neighborhood Mothers Project: The mothers, who have children aged between 0-4, are informed about childcare, communication, child illnesses etc.
  • Child-Care Service: 130 children, who are aged between 3 and 6; were registered in this service. This service is governed by 13 volunteer mothers. Information about Health Services: The aim of this service is giving information about health establishments which are needed by victims of earthquakes.

Key words: Turkey, NGO, women's group, education, capacity building, earthquake

Concerns of displaced women's welfare and rights

5pp. 2005, 25 April. Memorandum to her Excellency, the President, The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka by Women’s Coalition for Disaster Management, Batticaloa,

Available from, 20, Dias Lane, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

The memorandum draws attention to the serious concerns about the confusion and anxiety that prevail among the displaced women, persons, particularly with regard to the resettlement plans and reconstruction projects of the Government of Sri Lanka and other lead agencies, which fail to address gender concerns. The issues covered include definition of household; women’s representation on the decision-making bodies on shelter. A list specific calls under each area is highlighted for consideration.

Key words: Sri Lanka, women's groups, recovery, grassroots, practice, empowerment

New Step Site Project: New Step Women's Education And Culture Center

A project of the Foundation for Solidarity with Women (KADAV). Contacts: Zelal Ayman:; Melek Gündoğan;

This project was initiated following the 1999 MarmaraTurkey earthquake. Determined to render sustainability and institutionalize its efforts, WSF laid the foundations of “New Step Women’s Education and Culture Center” of Kocaeli-Kosekoy on August 18th, 2002.

The main aim of the project is to provide women education on a variety of subjects ranging from hairdressing to electronics, painting and computers so that they can engage in income generating activities. Workshops on candle production and textile alongside with a social center have been formed. Operating in a three storey building, the site also offers legal, psychological and health counseling to women. The most popular training courses has been those on reading-writing and courses for preparation for finishing primary school. Due to financial difficulties the social center has been closed in 2002, but the cooperative selling the products of women’s work is continuing. The most promising aspect of the project has been the self-esteem that women reported to have gained, their improvement in human relationships and gaining of economic independence.

The summary of the “New Step Site Project” provided for this sourcebook by WSF is given below by Zelal Ayman:

“Our Center, a two and a half story building with 1600m²deployment area constructed on about three quarters of an acre owned by WSF, comprises classrooms for vocational and educational courses for women, practical training workshops, a Day Care Unit with 20 children capacity, for the benefit of women participating in courses and activities, a Cafeteria and Kitchen, Administrative Offices, a Library and Information-Documentation Room, Consultation Rooms, a Guesthouse, a Hairdressing and Derma Care Course Unit, and a Multi Purpose Hall built as a separate unit to accommodate various social, cultural and sports activities.

An Earthquake Resistant Structure in Harmony with its Environs
Our Building employs advanced technology yet its design concept has been one of avoiding the stereotypical and dull form of this technology and taking utmost care to create a structure in harmony with its users and the environing architecture. The building has been constructed in light of the fact that it stands in the earthquake zone. Seismic isolation, radian general base, steel construction, column endurance strengthening provisions, special chemical paints for corrosion prevention and fire resistance and most significantly the women’s spirit... We call it the Arc of Noah.

Programs Implemented at the Center
The New Step Women’s Education and Culture Center was opened in November 2003 with the participation of local women and its activities were launched in January 2004.

In accord with its goal and reason d’etre and in line with all its work, WSF takes special care to conduct its current and future vocational trainings with a perspective and approach that will contribute into the participating women’s ability to change and transform their own existing gender roles.

During the first semester of 2004, the Center offered a Vocational Training Program comprising Office Administration Courses (Computer, Accounting, Secretarial, English); and Basic Education comprising Literacy, Elementary School Diploma courses. Furthermore within the Consultation Support Program, Psychological Counseling, Legal Consultation and Health Consultation have been provided. One of the three stores on the building’s entrance floor has been allocated for the Hairdressing and Derma Care Course, which started as soon as the Center was opened.

The following courses and services will also be provided: Vocational Training Program comprising Office Administration Course, Retail Sales Staff Course, Stylistics Course, Hairdressing and Derma Care Course; Informative Education Program comprising Environmental Health and Food Hygiene Course, Cattle Farming Course, Disaster Preparedness Course; Training and Guidance for Work and Employment comprising Consultation Service, Women’s Entrepreneurship Course, Employment Field Research; Consultation Support Program comprising Psychological Counseling, Legal Consultation, Health Consultation and Women’s Human Rights Course."


Key words: Turkey, earthquake, KADAV, natural hazards, education/training, work

In solidarity with those affected by the South Asian Earthquake

Oct 11, 2005. Statement from the Association for Women’s Rights in Development.

Key words: NGO, public education, gender analysis, development

Looking Forward

12 pp. February 2002. Summary of main observations made by women’s groups organizing around the 2001 Gujarat earthquake with participant list, rich narrative from impacted women, and action recommendations. The women’s meeting attended by 175 from 15 different NGOs was facilitated by SSP in India and by GROOTS, the international coalition of women’s groups working to move from disaster to development.

Key words: India, grassroots, women's groups, recovery

Golcuk-Sirinkoy Income Producing Workshops and Social Support Program

A related project of the Foundation for Solidarity with Women (KADAV) initiated following the 1999 Marmara Turkey earthquake. The main aim of this project based in an NGO (KADAV) was to educate women on getting income producing skills; to give them psychological, legal, health support; to inform them on women’s human rights; to give them education appropriate to the needs of labor market. This project took place in the Golcuk-Sirinkoy region. 1543 women benefited from this project between the dates of May 2000 – December 2002. This project is most relevant to reconstruction, holistic/integrated approach. It could be viewed in the context of natural hazards. The projects level analysis is individual/household; organizational and regional. Women are analyzed mainly as disaster survivors, grassroots. The target readers of this project are engineers/ scientific and technical specialists; community-based practitioners; general readers; government/ policy makers; academicians.

Contacts: Zelal Ayman:; Serap Gure(KADAV).

Key words: Turkey, earthquake, KADAV, Natural hazards, disorder, reconstruction, gender training, income producing, education

Sustainable Cities

The Foundation For The Support of Women’s Work (FSWW) also undertook activities described by Akcar, S. (2001), Grassroots Women’s Collectives-Role in Post-Disaster Efforts: Potential for Sustainable Partnerships and Good Governance (Lessons from the Marmara Earthquake Turkey), presented in the Expert Group Meeting on "Environmental management and the Mitigation of Natural Disasters: A gender Perspective" Ankara, Turkey, November, 2001.

The project aimed to convert poor women affected by the earthquake into economically active actors in the public sector. The basic principles were to facilitate learning by actively doing, to form networks with similar others and learn from their experiences, to learn ways of searching for and finding necessary funding, to reach necessary technical knowledge, and to be able to form constructive relationships with other actors in the society (public, private, NGO) and finally to develop necessary team awareness. The project was managed by the President of ICSC (Dr. Nola-Kate Seymoar, with assistance from Ewa Izdebski) working in close collaboration with FSWW and SSP. ICSC sought the assistance of Builders Without Borders (BWB), a new Canadian NGO headed by Neil Griggs, to recruit Canadian technical assistants and arranged their orientation in Canada and their travel to Turkey. ICSC also participated in the documentation and dissemination of the lessons learned and posted the results of the project on ICSC's web site. ICSC maintained overall financial responsibility for the project.

FSWW was responsible for executing the project in Turkey. FSWW is headed by Sengul Akcar who took overall responsibility for the project. Nurdane Caglar assisted Sengul and the directors of each of the Centres were involved in the project on site. FSWW coordinated the accommodation, travel and per diems for the Canadian TAs and the SSP representatives while in Turkey, hosted the exchange with SSP and oversaw the video production. They identified their methodology and the lessons learned. FSWW controlled and provided financial reports on the money spent in Turkey.

This project is most relevant to women’s economic participation. Its context is proper all hazard approach. Women are analyzed mainly as disaster survivors and grassroots community. The target readers of this project are community- based practitioners, general readers, government/ policy makers; academicians.

Key words: Turkey, earthquake, KEDV, empowerment, income generation, grassroots, livelihood

Women For Development

This NGO arose after in the aftermath of an earthquake and continues years later. As described by one of its founders:  “In 1988 Spitak disastrous earthquake fully ruined our native town Gyumri (former Leninakan). The absence of solutions and the depression after the seemed endless. We had to do something to save ourselves and to survive. We had to survive in order to find a way out for other women too, who where in the same situation.”

This group of women came together in response to the Spitak earthquake, explains the group’s president Armine Mikayelyan:

“In 1988 Spitak disastrous earthquake fully ruined our native town Gyumri (former Leninakan). The absence of solutions and the depression after the seemed endless. We had to do something to save ourselves and to survive. We had to survive in order to find a way out for other women too, who where in the same situation. It was painful for us to be watching 80 percent of Gyumri women spending half of their time standing in lines a humanitarian aid, and the other half finding out where to get more of it.

We are very thankful to international organizations and private contributors for their support, it really saved many families. However, on the other side, it had a bed influence on people’s thinking. It was necessary to create, to rebuild the city and life, to come up with the initiative to increase the social participation of women. Why women? Because they were the more vulnerable part of the population. Regardless of the fact that we (the vice-president of our organization Gohar Markosyan and me), being doctors of science and chief specialists of the National Survey for Seismic Protection of Armenia, had jobs, we still thought that our potential to social work was not used. The condition of the city pressed us, inspired to something new. In 1996 nine men and women, most of them with university education and scientific level, were collected round us and created “Women for Development” NGO, which had the mission of using the intellectual potential of women with higher education in Gyumri for carrying out development projects.

Since the day of foundation the organization acted actively in the following fields: Education, Health and Human Rights. This work is based in NGO. Date of publication is 2004. It is most relevant to women training. It’s level of analysis is regional. Women are analyzed as disaster survivors. Target readers are community based practitioners, general readers, government/ policy makers.”

Armine Mikayelyan can be contacted by email: She further describes this project in "Earthquake mitigation from a gender perspective in Armenia,” paper presented to the UN DAW expert working group on gender and disaster:

Key words: Armenia, earthquake, education, empowerment of women, community awareness, women and development

Booklet of Networking for Assistance and Support of Women Victims of Earthquake

Prepared by the Association for Supporting and Training Women Candidates (KADER), DGSPW and UNDP (Turkey) with the co-operation of Association for Supporting and Training Women Candidates (KADER), DGSPW and UNDP. 2000, 31 pp. This booklet provides a list of NGOs involved in disaster work and their projects. Excerpted in “Booklet of Networking in Support of Turkish Women Earthquake Survivors.” For more information: Nuray Kuranci (

Key words: Turkey, earthquake, women's groups, NGO, earthquake, relief, practice

The Greenbelt Movement--Special Annual Report 2003

40pp. 2003. Online pdf document available through The Greenbelt Movement at

The report arises from the community-based, development and environmental activities of the Greenbelt Movement (GBM). It focuses on community mobilization and empowerment. It aims to create a society of principled grassroots people who consciously work for continued improvement of their livelihoods. The GMB aims to mobilize community consciousness for self-determination, justice, equity, reduction of poverty and environmental conservation. Beneficiaries are women farmers, families and communities, schools and students and the country itself. Major achievements to date have centered on afforrestation, employment creation, mobilization, increased environmental awareness, empowerment and inter- and national recognition. The report demonstrates the breadth and depth of the many projects carried out by the GMB around the country and beyond. It will be of great interest to policy makers, community leaders and conservation researchers wanting to preserve the environment in political transformation times.

Key words: environmental conservation, community empowerment, community-based development, livelihoods, mobilization

Self-Employed Women's Association [SEWA]

As described on their website, SEWA is a trade union registered in 1972 on behalf of uncounted, undercounted and invisible women, more than 94% of whom labor in the unorganized and informal economy. SEWA projects build on and reflect the labor movement, the coop movement and women’s movement. They have active and sustained projects for capacity building and self-help through women’s banks, health care and law projects, media skills, child care, campaigns to organize women in particular sectors, and disaster mitigation and response. SEWA’s campaigns for training women in construction techniques, offering disaster insurance policies, and developing women’s leadership skills at the grassroots level have made them a vital link for poor women affected by slow- and rapid-onset disasters.

SEWA’s focus on economic empowerment and capacity development helps low-income women resist the effects of disasters of all kind. One example is the VIMO insurance program which (as described on the website) “is an integrated insurance program aiming to provide social protection for SEWA members to cover their life cycle needs and the various risks they face in their lives, through an insurance organisation in which they themselves are users, owners and managers of all services. Crises such as illness, widowhood, accident, fire, communal riots, floods and other such natural and man-made calamities result in loss of work, income and assets for poor working families.

SEWA’s network of village-based self-help groups positions them to promote risk reducing practices at the household level and respond immediately to disastrous events. In the aftermath of the 2001 Gujarat quake they undertook emergency operations including district, block and village level assessments, relief distribution and livelihood reconstruction programs.

The Jeevka gender-sensitive livelihood reconstruction project is described elsewhere in the Sourcebook. Opposition to it from governmental authorities and SEWA’s response is discussed on their website.

On the SEWA website users will also find short profiles useful for training or community education, such as the illustrated profile of SEWA members affected by the 2005 flooding in Gujarat.

Based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, SEWA frequently partners with the Disaster Mitigation Institute which is also based in Ahmedabad. For more information: SEWA Reception Centre, Opp.Victoria Garden, Amedabad 380 001 India. Tel: +(91-79) 5506444; Fax: +(91-79) 5506446 ; Email:; Website:

Key words: Women's group, grassroots, women's group, livelihood, mitigation, empowerment, practice

Nairobi Workshop, Mobilizing Women to Participate in Disaster Risk Management, 2004

3 pp. Illustrated. August 2004 issue of the newsletter of the Soroptimist International Club of Nairobi. Summary of the Nairobi Club’s work through ISDR on developing women’s capacities and gendering African disaster risk reduction strategies. The workshop was designed to bring women together for discussion of gender differences and opportunities for mobilizing women to reduce risk. Over 30 people attended. The newsletter report sums up the discussion and reproduces the recommendations forwarded in the areas of public awareness, information management, media, economic empowerment, and cooperation/partnerships. For copies or more information, contact The Soroptimist International Club of Nairobi: soropnairobi@yahoogroups.ecom

Key words: Conference, Kenya, NGO, women's group, grassroots, emergency management

Disasters: The Woman's Perspective

10 pp. Illustrated. January 2002 publication of Soroptimist International. SI members go beyond fundraising for emergency relief to advocacy and information exchange in this initiative, inspired in part by the attacks in the US on September 11, 2001. Short descriptions are provided of the activities of local chapters in many regions around: wars and other man-made disasters; natural disasters; Local Agenda 21 support; environmental management; and building peace among children. Of particular interest are the activities of groups from Greece, Antigua, Mozambique, the Philippines, Turkey, and Wales in response to natural disasters.

Key words: women's groups, INGO

Swayam Shikshan Prayog (Self-Empowerment for Women)

This well-known grassroots movement for Indian women’s empowerment has been increasingly involved in disaster response and reconstruction issues.

As described on their website: “SSP initiated a community-led disaster response project in Latur and Osmanabad following the earthquake in September 1993. Between 1994 and 1998, SSP was appointed consultant to the Maharashtra Government to promote community participation in rehabilitation under the World Bank-supported project. . .After the earthquake struck Gujarat in 2001, SSP along with the local women's federations shared insights and experiences from Maharashtra with affected communities in Gujarat with lesser level of government collaboration. SSP's resource pool for transferring lessons consists of community and technical teams and 300 leaders of federations who have worked actively for post-earthquake rehabilitation in Maharashtra . In many villages, especially in the underdeveloped Kutch region, post-earthquake activities effectively became entry-points for SSP to set up and nurture SHGs that later played a key role in village development and governance initiatives. . . In the aftermath of South Asia Tsunami (Dec 2004), SSP outreach extended to a total of twenty-five tsunami affected villages in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts of Tamil Nadu. SSP has facilitated grassroots women to transfer innovations to strengthen community response for preparedness by undertaking risk reduction measures that address vulnerabilities - disaster safe shelter, sustainable and alternate livelihoods, access to health, water and sanitation, to address psychosocial issues, strengthen social networks to respond and intervene with priorities in mainstream rehabilitation programmes.”

SSP organizes events uniting women symbolically and politically for safer communities, for example:

    December 2001: Sakhi Melava (“Women’s Gathering”). This meeting brought together more than 200 women survivors of the Gujarat earthquake with women from 25 villages affected by the 1993 Latur quake. Local women were not simply participants but facilitators and teachers who also learned about new quake-resistant building techniques and developed their confidence as leaders and speakers.

    September 2001: Candle lighting ceremony uniting 4588 women from hundreds of quake-struck villages in remembrance of the Latur quake. Participants called for increased participation of women in meaningful ways in governmental disaster management programs and for linking sustainable community development, gender equality and disaster risk reduction.

Many publications are available through SSP describing their disaster reduction initiatiatives, for example:

    Lessons From the Epicentre: Mainstreaming Women’s Initiatives in Disaster and Development, a document outlining the experiences learned by disaster-affected women and the development of the GROOTS peer learning model.

    Women at the Epicentre of Transformation, a document describing the collaboration of SSP (India) and the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work (Turkey) in cooperation with the NGO GROOTS (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood).

    Margin to Mainstream: Rebuilding Communities in Gujarat, a document describing woman-to-woman peer exchanges between women affected by earthquakes in India and Turkey and the efforts of SSP to train local women as community researchers, activists, environmental educators and home builders.

    Status of Life in Temporary Shelters, Tamil Nadu , India - Study July 13-17, 2005. The study on the status of life in temporary shelters in Tamil Nadu covered a total of 2048 temporary shelter units in 11 villages in Nagapattinam and Sirgali talukas. The study found that the major problem faced by the communities in temporary shelters was of severe heat in summer and leaking of the structures in the rains. As far the shelter sites are considered, the impact of wrong site selections and negligence to undertake correct ive measures were seen as a major short coming. Read more

The Lull After the Storm, Community assessment by women leaders February 2005. Women leaders who participated in post- earthquake development work in Latur and Gujarat visited Tsunami-affected Tamil Nadu region and prepared an assessment report. Facilitated by SSP and Covenant Centre for Development (CCD), the report covered reconstruction activities in Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts. 

Our Life, Our Film (25 minutes) 2004. Directed by eight grassroots women belonging to quake-ravaged villages of Kutch in Gujarat , this visual narrative walks the road with women and children in their struggle to rebuild their lives. The film received rave reviews in Indian media. To get a copy of the film, please write to:

Women Builders 2003, 'Breaking barriers in earthquake torn villages' is an account of women rebuilding habitats and restoring livelihoods after disasters. It tells how women's groups take the lead when there is space to take part in rehabilitation and development, with help from the government, donors and NGOs. To get a copy, please write to:

Key words: Grassroots, women's group, community, cross-hazard, India, housing construction, earthquake, capacity building, mitigation, research

Women's Organizations Funding Disaster Relief for Women

Ms Foundation:

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

Global Fund for Women
For one account of the Fund’s activities after the 2005 tsunami, see Long-term Pledges to rebuild lives:

Soroptimist Disaster Relief Fund
Applications on-line:

Women’s Funding Network
Short reports on the activities of US foundations for women that are responding to the survivors of hurricane Katrina, with recommendations for donors:

Key words: Cross hazard, women's groups, recovery, hurricane Katrina, Indian Ocean tsunami

Emergency preparedness in British Columbia: mitigating violence against women

In 1998, the BC Association of Specialized Victim Assistance and Counselling Programs co-sponsored the first North American conference looking at the link between disasters such as earthquakes and floods and the dramatic increase of violence against women and children in the aftermath. After the conference, with funds from the Ministries of Women's Equality, Human Resources and Attorney General, we developed a report- Emergency Preparedness in British Columbia: Mitigating Violence Against Women in Disasters (1999)- directed at provincial authorities. This made recommendations for changes to the coordination of emergency and disaster response planning to ensure that women's and victim’s needs are incorporated, and that those organizations are being included at region planning tables.

We also developed a workbook in 2001 to assist women and victim serving organizations in developing their own disaster response plans. We distributed this workbook across the province to all women and victim serving organizations and the Ministry of Economic Security and Social Development distributed it to all Emergency Social Service Directors. In addition, the Provincial Emergency Program has the workbook on their web site.

Two project documents are available:

Emergency Preparedness In British Columbia: Mitigating Violence Against Women In Disasters, E. Enarson, 1999, 59 pp.

It Can Happen to Your Agency! Tools for Change: Emergency Management For Women, 2000, 85 pp.

Key words: Canada, mitigation, gender violence, grassroots, practice guide, women's group, emergency management

Women's Edge Coalition

Following the 2005 tsunami, this coalition of US women’s groups united for fair trade and development policies, Women’s Edge reported on their website that the coalition "was impelled to act. As we asked ourselves ‘What can we do?’ we turned first to the people who knew best: the women themselves.”

The US-based coalition took a number of steps including:

  • Successful legislative lobbying in the US House of Representatives for grants to promote women’s self sufficiency in tsunami-affected countries
  • Short briefing paper on women and natural disasters
    Women’s safety and well being at risk during natural disasters
  • Video conferences on rebuilding after disasters in the US and South Asia
  • Field visit
    Women’s Edge representatives made a 2-week trip to Thailand and Sri Lanka in late 2005 to track progress toward recovery and the use of US Congressional grant monies to local women’s organization such as the Women's Development Federation (WDF) . For a description of this project with original photographs, see Life after the tsunami: women and reconstruction

  • Reports from women’s organizations in tsunami-affected countries

    2 pp. February 8, 2005. Summary of post-tsunami reports from women’s organizations contacted by the US based gender and trade advocacy groups Women’s Edge Coalition. Geared to potential donors to answer the question “What is the situation of women and what will they need to reestablish their livelihoods?” Includes quotations from women about work and training needs in the reconstruction period.

For more information, email Women’s Edge (

Key words: NGO, cross hazard, practice, research, advocacy, tsunami

Gender and Disaster Network

An educational project initiated by women and men interested in gender relations in disaster contexts. Since its origins in the 1997 Natural Hazards Center workshop at the University of Colorado, the GDN has expanded to include over 300 international members, including institutions, NGOs and individuals from around the world. The GDN
  • maintains a website with information and resource links, currently maintained by GDN member Maureen Fordham through Northumbria University, UK
  • manages a listserv to promote information exchange, currerently maintained by GDM member Sudha Arlikatti through Texas A & M University.
  • maintains and updates a bibliography on the topic, currently maintained by GDN member Elaine Enarson
  • coordinates the expertise of experts for projects such as the Sourcebook
  • coordinates the international Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster award recognizing individuals or organizations promoting gender equality in disaster risk reduction
  • organizes an annual gender caucus at the Natural Hazards Workshop, University of Colorado
  • produces an annual poster of recent GDN member activities, currently developed by GDN members Kathy Lynn with John Sorenson and Barbara Vogt

To join or learn more, visit the new GDN website:

Key words: All hazards, education, advocacy, empowerment, policy, practice

Crisis Recovery International, Inc.

This small nonprofit corporation dedicated to disaster relief is based in Lincoln, Nebraska. Their goal is to provide culturally-appropriate support that also supports local craftspeople and producers by using funds raised by volunteers in the US to purchase from local vendors what local tsunami-survivors indicate is most needed. For more information, contact organizer Sandy Ramsey:

Key words: NGO, relief, tsunami

Women's Neighbourhood Networking Project in Corvallis, Oregon and Uzhgorod, Ukraine

Women’ s groups in Ukraine, Poland, United States collaborated in this project to increase citizen participation in civic life and develop stronger democratic institutions by fostering neighborhood-level coalitions to address local problems. Building on women’s neighborhood-level networks and an existing “sister city” arrangement, the project involved peer exchanges, assessments, skills development, and training between women’s groups in the US and Ukraine. For a full description of the project and documention papers and photos, visit the project website:

In addition, a power point presentation on this project  by Associate Director Naomi Weidner, prepared for the 2004 Gender Equality and Disaster Risk Reduction Workshop in Honolulu:

Key words: US, Ukraine, women's group, preparedness, practice, emergency management, community, grassroots

Nicaraguan Women's Reconstruction Brigade

Hurricane Mitch brought the Women’s Centre Xochitl-Acatl in northwest Nicaragua into disaster response and the NGO then moved into home construction. The UK-based Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Women’s Brigade partnered with the Women’s Centre in support of women’s hands-on reconstruction initiatives.

Key words: Nicaragua, housing construction, grassroots

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

APWLD is an independent, non-government, non-profit organization. It is committed to enabling women to use law as an instrument of social change for equality, justice and development. APWLD also has consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). For more information, see

Among their initiatives in the aftermath of the 2004 tsumami:

Tsunami Aftermath. This excellent resource is regularly updated with illustrated documents addressing topics frequently overlooked, e.g.

  • The tsunami exacerbates Dalit women’s sufferings from caste discrimination
  • What is the reality of the tsunami tragedy for migrant workers from Burma?
  • Women’s Human Rights Concerns in Tsunami Affected Countries
  • Gender perspective needed in disaster management:

The Aceh Consulation. APFWLD also organized a regional women’s meeting which brought together over 60 women survivors and women’s rights activists from all tsunami-affected countries to strategize about how the particular challenges and risks facing women can be addressed. Notably, dalit women (aka ‘untouchable’) were unable to attend due to the actions of the Indian Government in denying necessary travel documents. The objectives of the Consultation included designing research into violations of women’s human rights after the tsunami, collective healing strategies, information sharing, and networking across women in the region.

Key words: Sri Lanka, India, tsunami, NGOs, women's groups, research, human rights, reconstruction, empowerment, vulnerability, capacity building

Rehabilitation of Women Victims in Tsunami

Draft note circulated for reflection by SNEHA, Nagapttinam. September 2, 2005.

Women’s groups immediately responded to the challenges of helping other women in the aftermath of the tsunami, including conducting on-the-ground assessments, collecting important contextual materials for responders, summing up the needs expressed by affected women and identifying strategies for supporting women’s recovery. This excellent summary report was prepared by the Sri Lanka-based Coalition for Assisting Tsunami Affected Women and is available through Disaster Watch:

Key words: Tsunami, Sri Lanka, women's group, relief, practice

Relief for women affected by tsunami

3 pp. Sarala Emmanuel, 2005. Based on data from a household survey in Batticaloa conducted by the Suriya Women’s Development Centre, Sri Lanka, this short report provides an overview on women’s changing social roles and their economic, social and legal right. Included is information on how the tsunami has provided a window of opportunity for “small but significant spaces “ for women to speak out on long-term reconstruction issues, be supported in decision making roles and shape new networks and connections among women’s groups.

Key words: Research, Sri Lanka, tsunami, grassroots, practice, human rights

Women's Writing Project: Recording women's journeys from the 2003 Canberra Bushfires

The bushfires that roared through Canberra, Australia, on January 18 2003, was part of one of the worst disasters Australia has ever seen. Over 500 homes were destroyed and damaged, 4 people died and many people were injured. As home to Australia's Government and enjoying a high standard of living, Canberra has often been taunted by the rest of Australia for not being part of the 'real Australia'. However, the devastation of mid-January this year has shown all of Australia that the result of a natural disaster can create fear, trauma and loss, as well as hope and strength, in any community.

As one of many who experienced the firestorm that day, I recalled the many stories I have come across through my role as a natural hazards researcher and the Gender Disaster Network. These stories were of women living with and recovering from the impacts of natural hazards around the world and provided an incredible insight into the social fabrics of women in various cultures around the world. In Canberra, women who had been displaced and traumatised by the fires began to realise that they had their own story to tell. And they realised that a huge part of their story was due to their identity as a woman and the many roles that come with that; mother, sister, daughter, lover, wife, carer, nurturer, volunteer, teacher and many more.

I wanted to share some of the stories I had read about women and disasters around the world with the women of Canberra and to somehow capture their stories. I began the Women's Bushfire Discussion Group, where women came together to have a chat about their situation and concerns. The Group was dynamic, with each woman being at different stages of their own recovery process and as such, with the help of the Canberra Bushfire Recovery Centre, we employed an experienced counsellor to continue leading the Group. I continued to pursue the idea of capturing women's stories and received a grant from the Recovery Centre to begin the Women's Bushfire Writing Project.

With the help of a wonderful community writer, who has many years of experience helping community groups to come together and write their own stories, we came together with women affected by the bushfires interested in writing their own story. The first Workshop was a wonderful success - we came together to talk about writing and publishing a book as a group, with our own directions, with our own hopes for writing and sharing our own stories. The community writer encouraged us to think of our experiences since the bushfires as shapes and sounds, as moments and journeys, all as part of learning how to shape our writing. With the small grant we received, we are aiming to publish a book in March 2004 that is written by women who were affected by the Canberra bushfires. It is our hope that this book will capture some of the women's journeys as well as other women's stories that have not yet been heard, to bring together a collection of moments and journeys.

If you would like more information about the project and the book, the Bushfire Recovery Centre, or community writers, please contact Anita Dwyer or refer to some of the links that have helped inspire this project at:

UPDATE: The book project was not completed due to conflicting demands on the writers

Key words: Australia, grassroots, narratives, recovery, fire

Comite De Emergencia Garifuna , Honduras

In Honduras , the Comite de Emergencia Garifuna (Garifuna Emergency Committee of Honduras) has supported Garifuna communities affected by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 to mobilize for reconstruction and in ways that address long term livelihoods, food security, cultural preservation and environmental protection of the Garifuna people. This Afro-Indigenous, majority women's group has raised funds to build houses with and for single mothers, support farmers and fisher people, share food with children and elderly, train youth and women in artisan work and other income generating programs and strengthen communties. In 16 severely affected and marginalized towns, communities created tool banks that lend farm implements to farmers. Farmers here are mostly poor women who work in non-mechanised, subsistence farming. Thus their efforts to address food shortages and the loss of livelihoods caused by the hurricane have improved their ability to secure land tenancy, address long term development challenges and build their resilience to future food shortages.

Comité de Emergencia Garifuna
A.P. 67 Trujillo, Colón , Honduras
T: 504-434-4418


Key words: Honduras, grassroots, livelihoods, mitigation, reconstruction, hurricane Mitch

De Mujer a Mujer

This is an awareness and preparedness campaign in Florida. For more information, contact Juanita

For more information about the disaster relief work of Centro Campesino, visit their website:

After seeing all the difficulties experienced by rural poor, farmworker, indigenous and undocumented women after the 2004 hurricane season in Florida, migrant family advocate and researcher Juanita Mainster, then the hurricane coordinator for The Redlands Christian Migrant Association based in Immokalee, Florida, decided that there had to be a better way. She saw the clear need for a hurricane preparedness strategy that every women residing in areas affected by hurricanes could understand and adopt as part of their lifestyle. Focusing first on the many Maya undocumented farmworker women who for the most part reside in rural areas around the state and do not speak English or Spanish, she met a young mother living in Nocotee, FL after hurricane Charlie. She had such a story to tell but could not tell it because she doesn't speak English or Spanish and Juanita does not speak Kanjobal, her indigenous language. De Mujer a Mujer (Woman to Woman) is one response to this, developed in conjunction with Centro Campesino Farmworker Center, Inc. located in South Miami Dade County and supported by the Women's Fund of Miami Dade County and the energies of many volunteers. De Mujer a Mujer will educate women on disaster awareness and preparedness. They will learn how to prepare for a hurricane and at the same time they will educate other women in their families and their neighborhoods. The first of three tiers will consist of Centro Campesino trainees (mostly immigrant women) who will be trained as community trainers in hurricane preparedness. They will convene hurricane preparedness meetings among documented women in the seven Centro Campesino housing developments. From those meetings they will recruit immigrant women interested in become community trainers. The second tier will be documented immigrant women who will conduct similar meetings in the immigrant community at large. Undocumented women or women familiar with the undocumented neighborhoods will be recruited in this way to conduct similar meetings in those neighborhoods. In the third tier, undocumented immigrant women will conduct hurricane preparedness in the undocumented neighborhoods. It is at this level that the project staff hopes to reach the greatest numbers of women encountering the most difficulties during a disaster due to language, culture, economic, or nationality. In addition to the awareness component, the project also includes an "Important Papers File,” in which each participant receives a water resistant file in which to organize all of the important papers they will need in the aftermath of hurricane. Oral histories will also be conducted to capture the experiences of these immigrant women as they strive to increase the resilience of their communities to hazards and disasters.

Key words: US, undocumented, NGO, women's group, preparedness, empowerment, hurricane

Louisiana Domestic Violence Victim's Relief Fund

The LCADV relief fund is one among many such funds. As described by advocates: "The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence(LCADV) is establishing a fund to assist victims of domestic violence and child victimization who are displaced and affected by Hurricane Katrina. LCADV is a network of 20 domestic violence programs shelters throughout the state. Four of our shelters and two nonresidential programs are completely closed at the time and two or three may be completely destroyed. Sad to say, domestic violence and child victimization are social problems that do not stop during this natural disaster we are experiencing and with the cessation of all direct services in the gulf coast region, the increased need for relocation and basic monetary assistance is essential for these women and children...All donations go directly to victims of domestic violence affected by this hurricane and will not be used for any administrative or other purposes."

Key words: US, hurricane Katrina, women's group, recovery, gender violence

INCITE! New Orleans Call for Action

Statement from this grassroots coalition of women of color organized against violence calling for critical race, class and gender analysis and practical support to Katrina survivors from members of Incite. To read this document and others from INCITE:

Key words: US, hurricane, NGO, grassroots, women's group

Women's Caucus of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition

This grassroots progressive coalition responding to those most hard-hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita (fall 2005) includes a women’s caucus. As part of their organizing, they have developed an action plan and a statement of principles emphasizing the need for accountability to women and their full participation in reconstruction decisions and to making the post-disaster efforts of low-income women to recovery and rebuild visible.

Key words: US, hurricane Katrina, reconstruction, organizing

Women will rebuild Miami

Cross-cultural coalition of over 40 women's groups that arose in Miami in protest against gender bias in the distribution of relief monies through the elite, male-dominated emergent group We Will Rebuild. Utilized feminist process to highlight gender, race and class disparities. For more information, see Women Will Rebuild Miami (Enarson and Morrow, 1998).

Key words: hurricane Andrew, US, women's group, recovery

Your community group can help in times of disasters

Published by: Farm Radio International                                           Date of Publication: July 2002

Local, community or municipal leadership is a key factor in recovery from disasters. It is often more effective than national or centrally-planned prevention and recovery strategies. The purpose of this script is to encourage local groups to recognize the skills they have that will be useful in disasters. This script uses the Busara Women's Radio Club in Tanzania, as an example. (accessed 21 July 2009)

Key words: Southern Africa, Tanzania, good practice, flood

Perempuan Kepala Keluarga (Pekka) (Women Headed Household Empowerment Program)

PEKKA was originally developed in the year 2000, from the initial idea of the National Commission on Violence Againts Women (KOMNAS PEREMPUAN), to document the life of the widows in the conflict region, and the intention of the Kecamatan Development Program (PPK) to respond to the request of the widows who are the victims of the conflict in Aceh, to get access to the resources, in order to overcome their economic problems and trauma. This project was originally named the "widows project" which was fully supported by a grant from the Japan Social Development Fund through the World Bank. KOMNAS PEREMPUAN then asked Nani Zulminarni, at that time the chair person of the Center for Women Resources Development (PPSW), to be the Coordinator of this program.

Through the process of reflection and intensive discussions with various parties, Nani then proposed to integrate both of these original ideas into a more comprehensive empowerment program. For the purpose, the theme and title of the "Widows Project" or the "Project for Widows" were changed to sound more provocative and ideological., ie. by putting the widows in a better position, role and responsibility as the head of the family, rather than as poor/ pitiful, humble, helpless and useless women. In addition, this project is expected to also be able to make social changes by raising the prestige of widows in the society. Therefore, Nani proposed to name the project "The Female Headed Household Empowerment Program" or abbreviated the PEKKA Program, which was agreed by all parties.  Later on, the word Pekka is also used as the terminology for Women Headed Households or Perempuan Kepala Keluarga in Indonesian language.

In general this program aims to strengthen women headed household so that they are able to make contribution to the process of realizing society that is prosperous, democratic, gender-fair and respected.

 Pekka mission objectives include:

Improving the women head of households’ welfare

Organizing and facilitating the women head of households to have access to various resources.

Enabling the women head of households to actively participate in every phase of development in their respective area.

Raising the women head of households awareness about their rights as human beings and as citizen who is as equal as others.

Empowering the women head of households to have control of their lives, the decision making process within their families as well as within the society.


Key words: non-government, women empowerment, Aceh, Indonesia, tsunami