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Dahlback, Filippa, 2023. The female perspective on a situation of uncertainty : examining gendered and accumulated vulnerability in multiexposure to stressors through a case study in rural Nepal. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Climate change impacts are becoming more severe globally, with estimations of a continued negative trend in the future. This interacts with increasing natural disasters as well as non-climatic stressors, such as pandemics or social stressors, creating a multi-exposure to stressors especially harmful for rural populations and small-scale farmers who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. Men and women are impacted differently by stressors and face different opportunities to respond, which relates to gendered social roles. The multi-exposure to stressors, and interaction of them, may also have accumulated effects. Therefore, this thesis examines how women experience and navigate exposure to multiple enivronmental and other stressors over time, and what the accumulated effect of continued exposure to it is on women during their life trajectories.

Nepal is a country that has experienced multiple different overlapping stressors in recent years, such as climate change, the 2015 Gorkha earthquake, high levels of food insecurity, significant out-migration and the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, it provides an opportunity for examining how multiple stressors intersect long-term within a household and how it impacts women’s daily lives. Through a case study, the thesis builds on semi-structured interviews combined with other participatory rural appraisal methods. For a deeper understanding of how social structures and biophysical factors shape how women in rural Nepal experience and navigate multiple stressors over time, the analysis builds on the concept of vulnerability. Vulnerability refers to the susceptibility of being harmed by an event and is in this study conceptualized as contextual, gendered and with a cumulative effect.

The empirical findings show that not all women experience a stressor in the same way, however, there is a common feeling of women being more impacted, feeling more concerned and facing a heavier burden than men. Stressors lead to increased time and labor for women in the responsibilities they have, such as domestic work, agricultural work and childcare. It also shows how women greatly worry about food, safety and health of the family when experiencing different types of stressors. These aspects all relate to social structures and gender roles, affecting women’s daily lives, experienced impacts and responses. The gender roles also mean they lack voice and decision-making power. Multi-exposure to stressors is found to lead to an increased emotional stress for women. Through highlighting life histories, the study shows how vulnerability is personally experienced and that interaction between multiple stressors over time shapes women’s long-term prospects for lives they value. While women are found to be restricted in their gender roles, there are also demonstrated ways in which women come together and organize themselves. This indicates that changes may be happening and that gender does not only mean differentiated vulnerability. Shared gender can also be a source of strength and solidarity in times of stress.

Main title:The female perspective on a situation of uncertainty
Subtitle:examining gendered and accumulated vulnerability in multiexposure to stressors through a case study in rural Nepal
Authors:Dahlback, Filippa
Supervisor:Fischer, Harry
Examiner:Bartholdson, Örjan
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2023
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM009 Rural Development and Natural Resource Management - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:Multi-exposure, stressors, climate change, Ghorka earthquake, COVID-19, vulnerability, gender, Nepal, life histories, small-scale farmers
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Deposited On:09 Oct 2023 10:24
Metadata Last Modified:10 Oct 2023 01:03

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