MADRE Articles

Death Toll in Burma 22,000 and Rising; Women's Leadership in Response to Deadly Cyclone

Posted on: Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Keywords: Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, Burma, Emergency Relief

Tropical Cyclone Nargis struck Burma on Saturday May 3 with winds of up to 120 miles per hour, and the death toll has been reported as over 22,000 and climbing. The force of the storm set off a tidal wave that washed away many of the homes in low-lying coastal areas and that has left tens of thousands of people missing. Official government reports indicate that entire villages have been destroyed by the storm's impact.

As increasingly devastating reports emerge, MADRE calls on the governments, international institutions and relief organizations to incorporate the needs and expertise of women in the response to this disaster. An effective recovery operation must not only acknowledge the threats faced by women, who are over-represented among the poor. The relief response must also recognize the unique social roles that women play in communities and the valuable skills that women possess.

Around the world, women take on particular social roles crucial to sustaining their communities. In times of disaster, women activate their social networks of family and community to meet the needs of survivors. The knowledge of women directly impacted in Burma—related to building housing, preserving food stores, conserving water—must be preserved and adapted for this crisis.

You can help.

MADRE is working with the Women's Human Rights Defenders Network and Burmese women's organizations. We learned from our work with women's organizations in the aftermath of the tsunami that, in order to best identify and meet the communities' needs, we must rely on the local women's organizations.

With your support, we can help to rebuild, provide psycho-social care to women, the elderly and children, and help them secure access to basic and life-saving services. Together, we can make sure that women and families impacted by this disaster and the need for sustainable rebuilding are taken seriously. Click here to make a donation.

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