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Rapid Gender Analysis of the August Beirut Port Explosion: An Intersectional Examination

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On August 4 2020, the devastating Beirut explosion shook the whole city to its core, taking the lives of 191 persons (120 males, 58 females, and 13 unspecified), wounding at least 6,500, and leaving 300,000 people displaced. Prior to the explosion, Lebanon’s crisis has been underpinned by extreme structural gender inequalities: Lebanon ranks 145 out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, due to low rates of women’s economic and political participation and patriarchal socio-cultural norms. The impact of the explosion compounded with the worst economic crisis in the history of Lebanon and the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to significantly push back what gains have been made on gender equality in the country.

This report, “Rapid Gender Analysis of the August Beirut Port Explosion: An Intersectional Examination,” was conducted by ABAAD, CARE, UNESCWA, UNFPA, and UN Women. It assesses how diverse women, men, girls, boys, and gender minorities were affected by the events of August 4, with a close look at the specific impact on older, disabled, refugee, migrant, and LBQT (lesbian, bisexual, queer, and trans) women.

The Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) found that of the affected households living in the explosion radius, 8% were older women living alone, and 51% self-identified as female-headed, who have increased vulnerabilities around economic stability and risks of gender-based violence. Approximately 5% reported family members who were pregnant or lactating and whose access to continuous reproductive and health services has been disrupted. According to initial estimates, men were more likely to die from the explosion, while women were more likely to be injured. The impact of the explosion has already seen a reduction in employment opportunities for women; female headed households were 10% less likely than male headed households to report at least one member generating income in the weeks after the explosion. Risks of sexual and gender-based violence increased, due to multiple families living in crowded settings and the lack of public streetlights. Understanding the gender specific nature of intersectional risks and taking into account voices and demands from feminist, women’s rights, and LGBTIQ+ actors in Lebanon is critical to avoiding harm and facilitating equitable and empowering humanitarian response and recovery interventions to the Beirut port explosion.

The assessment combines a secondary review of existing data with primary data collection. Secondary analysis included reviewing 45 reports, sit-reps, and needs assessments published by United Nations (UN) agencies, international and non-governmental organizations (I/NGOs) since the explosion and conducting gender analysis on three quantitative datasets from assessments carried out in response to the explosion. Primary data consisted of 16 key informant interviews (KIIs), 4 focus group discussions (FGDs) with 17 participants, and 16 community interviews – a total of 49 people overall.