Women and Children in the 2015 Earthquake in Nepal

Conference paper
Part of the Springer Natural Hazards book series (SPRINGERNAT)


Disasters do not affect individuals and communities indiscriminately; indeed, some groups of people are more vulnerable before, during, and after the disaster. Globally, research has found that children, youth, and women are often more vulnerable to disasters due to fewer economic resources, lack of political voice, risk of sexual assault and exploitation, household labor responsibilities, and gender and age discrimination. In this paper we examine the experiences of women and children in Nepal, which was struck by a devastating earthquake and aftershock in the spring of 2015. We discuss how the disaster impacted their lives, including their shelter and housing, education, labor, personal safety, and health. In Nepal, as is the case elsewhere, some groups of women and children are even more vulnerable than others. Women and children with disabilities, those belonging to an ethnic or racial minority group, female-headed households, elderly women, and children separated from families, or without families, face particular risks. We consider how children and women were faring in Nepal a year after the earthquake and propose some recommendations to reduce losses in the future.


Children Women Vulnerability Disaster Recovery Nepal Earthquake 



Alice Fothergill would like to thank the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for bringing her to Nepal in February 2016 to participate in the earthquake symposium in Kathmandu. This meeting provided her the opportunity to learn first-hand about the disaster and to meet many individuals who have been documenting and researching the disaster from a wide range of fields and are working to reduce the suffering in Nepal in future disasters.

Emma Squier would like to thank the School for International Training (SIT) faculty and staff in Nepal for their support and guidance on her study abroad program. She is also grateful to her host families in Nepal for their generosity and opening their homes to her, and to her Nepalese translators who provided critical assistance with her research project. Emma also thanks her parents for their love and support.


  1. Bradshaw S, Fordham M (2013) Women, girls, and disasters. Department for International Development UK. Accessed 22 Apr 2016
  2. Dambach M, Baglietto C (2010) Haiti: ‘expediting’ intercountry adoptions in the aftermath of a natural disaster: preventing future harm. International Social Service (ISS), GenevaGoogle Scholar
  3. Devkota BP, Doberstein B, Nepal SK (2016) Social capital and natural disaster: local responses to 2015 earthquake in Kathmandu. Int J Mass Emergencies Disasters 34(3):439–466Google Scholar
  4. Enarson E, Fothergill A, Peek L (2006) Gender and disaster: foundations and directions. In: Havidan R, Quarantelli EL, Dynes RR (eds) Handbook of disaster research. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Erikson K (1978) Everything in its path: destruction of community in the buffalo creek flood. Simon & SchusterGoogle Scholar
  6. Fievet V, Singh K, Davis A, Delchambre M (2016) Children’s voices, children’s rights: one year after the Nepal earthquake. Report on behalf of Plan International, Save the Children, Terre des hommes, UNICEF, and World Vision InternationalGoogle Scholar
  7. Fothergill A (2004) Heads above water: gender, class, and family in the grand forks flood. State University of New York (SUNY) Press, Albany, NYGoogle Scholar
  8. Fothergill A, Peek L (2004) Poverty and disasters in the United States: a review of recent sociological findings. Nat Hazards 32:89–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fothergill A, Peek L (2015) Children of Katrina. University of Texas Press, AustinGoogle Scholar
  10. Humanitarian Coalition (2016) Women and disaster relief. Accessed 24 Apr 2016
  11. Jackson R (2015) Rebuilding a more resilient Nepal. OXFAM., Accessed Oct 2015
  12. Norlha (2015) Impact of natural disasters on girls and women. Accessed 10 Sept 2016
  13. Peek L (2013) Age. In: Thomas DSK, Phillips BD, Lovekamp WE, Fothergill A (eds) Social vulnerability to disasters. 2nd edn. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FLGoogle Scholar
  14. Petricic S (2016) Nepal one year after the earthquake: child labour, child brides, homeless kids. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Accessed 29 Aug 2016
  15. Phillips BD, Thomas DSK, Fothergill A, Blinn-Pike L (eds) (2010) Social vulnerability to disasters. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FLGoogle Scholar
  16. Save the Children (2016) Save the children’s earthquake response in Nepal: a special one-year progress report. Accessed Apr 2016
  17. Shaw R, Kobayashi M (2001) The role of schools in creating earthquake-safer environment. OECD Workshop, ThessalonikiGoogle Scholar
  18. Squier E (2016) The women of helambu: life after the 2015 earthquake. Research paper submitted to SIT Study Abroad Program, Nepal, Tibetan and Himalayan PeoplesGoogle Scholar
  19. Thomas DSK, Phillips BD, Lovekamp WE, Fothergill A (eds) (2013) Social vulnerability to disasters, 2nd edn. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. UNESCO (2016) National Literacy Campaign. Country Profile, Nepal. Accessed 23 Oct 2016
  21. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) (2015) Exploitation the new danger for Nepal’s children. Accessed 10 Oct 2016
  22. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) (2016) Nepal earthquakes: one year later: moving on. Report by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Nepal Country Office. Published by Communications Section, UNICEF Nepal, Lalitpur, Nepal, April 25 2016Google Scholar
  23. United Nations Development Programme (2010) Gender and disasters. Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery. Accessed 9 Sept 2016
  24. Wisner B (2016) UNISDR needs a better definition of ‘vulnerability’. Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR). Accessed 22 Oct 2016
  25. Wisner B, Blaikie PC, Davis IT (1994) At risk: natural hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations