Bangladesh is repeatedly threatened by tropical storms and cyclones, exposing one-third of the total population of the country. As a preparedness measure, several cyclone shelters have been constructed, yet a large proportion of the coastal population, especially women, are unwilling to use them. Existing studies have demonstrated a range of concerns that discourage women from evacuating and have explored the limitations of the shelters, but the experiences of female evacuees have not been apparent in these stories. This study explores the lived-experiences of women in the cyclone shelters of Bangladesh and discusses their health and well-being as evacuees in the shelters. Nineteen women from three extremely vulnerable districts of coastal Bangladesh were interviewed. Seven research themes were identified from the participants’ narratives using van Manen’s thematic analysis process. The most salient theme, being understood (as a woman), portrayed the quintessential image of these women, which subsequently influenced their vulnerability as evacuees. The next themes–being a woman during crisis, being in a hostile situation, being fearful, being uncertain, being faithful, and being against the odds–focused on the incidents they lived through which affected their physical and mental health and the emotions they felt as evacuees. The paper offers a deep inquiry into women’s experiences of well-being in the shelters and recognizes the significance of women’s voices to improve their experiences as evacuees.
- disaster health
- community preparedness