On Monday, 6 February 2023, a powerful earthquake hit Türkiye and Syria with many people still missing, thousands being injured and more than 5,000 people being killed. Rescue operations across the affected regions are expanding, as numerous people are repeatedly found in the rubble. The Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) Network expresses its solidarity to the people in Türkiye and Syria who have been struck by the devastating earthquake and are subjected to these very challenging times.
Natural disasters including their impacts are never gender-neutral. In fact, according to the United Nations Development Programme, “when disaster strikes, women and children are 14 times more likely than men to die”. Women’s and girls’ pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities, both structural and social, increase during and particularly post-disaster leading to a higher risk of gender-based violence. It is therefore crucial to consider gender dynamics to understand how and to which extent disasters reflect and reinforce gender inequality. Feminist civil society organisations and women’s specialist services whose invaluable efforts and work are rooted in a gendered approach are able to respond to the needs of women and girls before, during and after a disaster meaning, these organisations have an indispensable role. WAVE is expressing its unlimited support to specialist women’s service providers such as our WAVE member organisations in Türkiye, Foundation for Women’s Solidarity, Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter Foundation and Mor Salkım Women’s Association, who continue their provision of life-saving aid amid current unpredictable conditions, and women’s human rights defenders such as our individual WAVE member Kadriye Bakırcı and WAVE Youth Ambassador Selin Ozunaldim who relentlessly amplify feminist voices against gender inequality and violence against women and girls.
We strongly reiterate that the recovery plans concerning this natural disaster must include a gendered response both in Türkiye and Syria in order to mitigate the impact of natural disasters on women’s and girl’s livelihood relating to health, socioeconomic status, housing and other gender-related risk factors.