Event Reports




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IRDR IWD Gender and Disasters Event

24 April 2013

On 8th March 2013, International Women’s Day, the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction hosted a panel discussion on “Gender and Disasters”, in which we explored how the genders are differently impacted by natural disasters, why this difference exists, and what is being done about it. A panel of experts and an experienced chair-person all with very wide ranging experiences and backgrounds made this a very lively and informative discussion, with keen participation from the audience. The panel of experts included Paula Albrito, Head of the European Office of the UNISDR, David Alexander, UCL Professor of Risk and Disaster Reduction, and Linda O’Halloran, Director of NGO Thinking Development. It was Chaired by Ellie Lee, Reader in Social Policy. Further details of the Chair and panelists and a video of the full panel discussion can be found below.

Panel Chair Dr Ellie Lee

Reader of Social Policy at the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR). Dr Lee has written numerous articles on health-related issues, including abortion, reproductive technologies, infant feeding, post-natal depression and men’s health.

She is the author of Abortion, Motherhood, and Mental Health: Medicalizing Reproduction in the US and Britain (Aldine Transaction 2003) and her articles have appeared in journals including Sociology of Health and Illness, Health, Risk and Society and Reproductive Health Matters. She is the Director of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, based in SSPSSR. She is also the Co-ordinator of the Pro-Choice Forum, Director of the Institute of Ideas

Panellist Paula Albrito, European Regional Coordinator at UNISDR

Paola Albrito is the Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Office for Europe and has covered disaster risk reduction activities in the European region since 2007. She joined UNISDR in 2004 during the preparations for the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2004 analyzing the national progress reports received from national authorities in feeding the Conference with the Outcome Analysis Document on the status on DRR implementation at the global level. She assisted the inter-governmental Drafting Committee and Main Committee of the Conference in charge of developing the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters adopted by the United Nations General Assembly with resolution 60/195 endorsed by the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, in January 2005.

 In March 2005 she worked on Policy Issues related topics particularly related to the follow-up to the Hyogo Framework for Action, including development of guidelines related to indicators towards assessing disaster risk reduction issues and how to mainstream disaster risk reduction in sustainable development policy and programme.

Paola holds a Masters in International Relations and Political Science, University of Turin, with research conducted at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), London. She worked, at the beginning of her career, at the United Nations Staff System College (UNSSC) in Turin, Italy, where she supported UN country teams in developing sustainable development policies.  In 2000 she joined the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Djibouti as Coordinator/Programme Analyst coordinating the development of the Common Country Assessment and United Nations Development Assistance Framework (programmes addressing sustainable development issues­­­). She also worked as an independent consultant with programme evaluations within the International Labor Organization.

Panellist Prof David Alexander

David Alexander is a Professor of Risk and Disaster Reduction at the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction. He joined the IRDR in October 2013. David Alexander teaches emergency planning and management and has research interests in this field, as well as earthquake disaster analysis. His books include "Natural Disasters", "Confronting Catastrophe" and "Principles of Emergency Planning and Management". He is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Co-Editor of Disasters journal, and is a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. He has conducted several studies into the gender imbalance in the effects of earthquakes.

See more on David's IRDR staff profile page

Panellist Linda O'Halloran, Director of Thinking Development

Linda O'Halloran is the founder and managing director of Thinking Development. She coordinates the diverse teams of professionals and academics who are working with Haiti's largest educator of women to deliver disaster-resilient, environmentally and socially sustainable facilities to a disaster-affected girls' school community in Port-au-Prince. Linda holds an MPhil in philosophy from UCL, sits on the executive board of the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, and works part time in UK Government communications.


Dr Joanna Faure Walker, a lecturer in the IRDR, has also written a blog post about this event.