Researcher: Evacuations Need Women's Perspective

Researcher: Evacuations need women's perspective

A Japanese university researcher is calling for measures to ensure that women taking care of children or aging family members can be quickly evacuated in disasters.

Experts on disaster mitigation from Tohoku University held discussions with their counterparts from the University of London in the British capital on Thursday. Topics included the lessons learned from the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11th, 2011.

A researcher at Tohoku University's Graduate School, Miwako Kitamura, talked about 45 women who died when the tsunami struck the town of Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture. She used the written testimonies of their bereaved families.

Kitamura said many of these women were housewives and their evacuation was delayed because they wanted to check on parents who needed care or tried to pick up their children from school.

The researcher said some men were urged to quickly evacuate their workplaces, but some women were reluctant to leave their homes.

Kitamura said information on households should be shared by local communities to enable mutual support. She said there is also a need for guidelines that thoroughly explain what people should do in a disaster.

Providing a female perspective in disaster mitigation plans is a global challenge. Kitamura said there is enormous interest around the world in why so many people died in the 2011 disaster. She added that it is important to provide leading researchers with information at international forums.