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Gender and leadership in the wake of the 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile

Ana Gabriela Fernández Saavedra (FLACSO Uruguay, Montevideo, Uruguay)
Rosario González Arias (Department of Sociology, Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain)
Sandra Dema Moreno (Department of Sociology, Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain)
Virginia Cocina Díaz (Department of Sociology, Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 22 March 2023

Issue publication date: 12 July 2023




The aim of this article is to reveal the extent to which a disaster situation contributed to fostering leadership in the population affected in terms of gender.


For this article, four focus groups were conducted, all of them composed of people directly involved in the earthquake and tsunami in Chile on February 27, 2010, two of them made up of women and the other two of men.


The research revealed that male leadership during the response and recovery processes is linked to traditional gender roles although the continuity of this differed between the two phases. With respect to women, they were found to be very active in the response phase in terms of managing emergency aid, a task linked to their reproductive and care roles. Women's leadership also appears in the recovery phase, where the collective dimension of their actions stands out, defying to some extent these roles and highlighting their capacity to adapt to the challenges of the disaster.


Understanding the leadership that unfolds in the population affected by this disaster during the response and recovery phases has significant potential to inform and influence the development of risk reduction policies that are more effective, egalitarian and resilient.



The authors are very grateful to their colleagues from the GENDER Project, especially to Cecilia Pérez and Beatriz Jarpa for their help with the fieldwork, but also to those people who participated in the focus groups. Without their testimonies this research would not have been possible. The authors are also grateful to Ronnie Lendrum for her help with the translation.

Funding: This work was produced within the international Project GENDER (Gender, disasters and risks), supported by the National Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation and co-funded by the Spanish Research Agency and the European Regional Development Fund, grant number FEM2017-86852-P.

Disclosure statement: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.


Fernández Saavedra, A.G., González Arias, R., Dema Moreno, S. and Cocina Díaz, V. (2023), "Gender and leadership in the wake of the 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 323-336.



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