From Vulnerability to Agency in Disasters: The Experiences of Women Victim-Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Raisa TY, University of the Philippines-Diliman; University of Eastern Philippines, Philippines
This paper presents the experiences of women victim-survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, considered "the most powerful storm to make landfall in recorded history” (Republic of the Philippines Gazette 2013). Police data of violence committed against women shows an increase of reported rape-related and physical abuse cases in 2014 and 2015, the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, compared to 2010-2013 in the Province of Leyte. Based on the data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, economic abuse and emotional crisis are among the top cases experienced by 'women in especially difficult circumstances' in 2014-2015 in Eastern Visayas.

Drawing from vulnerability theory in disaster studies, this research examines women’s experiences of disaster as they intersect with their multidimensional characteristics of economic, physical and social vulnerabilities (Yumarni 2014). In addition, Bourdieu’s concept of capital is used to analyze women’s practices as agents to overcome the limitations of their predicament. Using interviews with women victim-survivors in Tacloban City and a nearby town, areas that were badly hit by the typhoon, the study captures the narratives of women’s experiences of disaster, examines articulations of their practices of survival, negotiations with others, and rebuilding their lives in the disaster aftermath. Women’s traditional social roles and their strong sense of commitment to their family are among the themes in their narratives as victim-survivors of disaster. On the other hand, their agency is also explored as they become advocates, organizers and responders.