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Beyond Binary: (Re)Defining “Gender” for 21st Century Disaster Risk Reduction Research, Policy, and Practice

Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice, University of Otago, Wellington 6242, New Zealand
School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS 7250, Australia
DRR Dynamics, London WC2 2JR, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(20), 3984;
Received: 26 August 2019 / Revised: 9 October 2019 / Accepted: 15 October 2019 / Published: 18 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Minority Health Issues and Health Disparities)
The dominant discourse of gender focuses on the binary of woman/man, despite the known additional risks for diverse sexualities and gender minorities in disasters. Given the small but growing body of literature concerning gender minorities in disasters, this paper sets out to explore the place of sex and gender minorities in disasters and to examine whether a binary definition needs to be extended. A five-stage rapid review was undertaken following Arksey and O’Malley’s method. Peer-reviewed journal articles in English language were sought that included disaster and gender terms in the title, abstract, and/or body of the article published between January 2015 and March 2019. The search included MEDLINE and Scopus databases. Relevant information from the studies were charted in Microsoft Excel, and results were summarized using a descriptive analytical method. In total, 729 records were identified; 248 that did not meet the inclusion criteria were excluded and 166 duplicates were removed. A total of 315 records were sourced and their full text was reviewed. Of those, only 12 journal articles included content relative to more than two genders. We also recognized that sex and gender terms were used interchangeably with no clear differentiation between the two. We recommend that disaster scholars and practitioners adopt correct terminology and expand their definition of gender beyond the binary; utilize work on gender fluidity and diversity; and apply this to disaster research, policy, and practice. View Full-Text
Keywords: gender; gender minorities; disaster; rapid review; binary gender; gender minorities; disaster; rapid review; binary
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Rushton, A.; Gray, L.; Canty, J.; Blanchard, K. Beyond Binary: (Re)Defining “Gender” for 21st Century Disaster Risk Reduction Research, Policy, and Practice. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 3984.

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