A rapid gender analysis of the August 2020 Beirut explosion

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. 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 assesses how diverse women, men, girls, boys, and gender minorities were affected, with a close look at the specific impact on older, disabled, refugee, migrant, and LBQT (lesbian, bisexual, queer, and trans) women.

This report was conducted by CARE, in partnership with ABAAD, UNESCWA, UNFPA, and UN Women.

  • We 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.

  • Countries: Lebanon
  • Co-authors: UN Women, UNFPA, ESCWA, ABAAD
  • Published: October 2020

Related Publications

Made by Women: Impact report 2020

The Made by Women strategy seeks to ensure women in the garment industry have access to decent jobs, are free from violence and harassment and can give voice to their rights at work. Engaging with women, businesses, governments and... Read more...

Our Best Shot: Women frontline health workers in other countries are keeping you safe from COVID-19

This report argues that women frontline health workers – who deliver the ‘last mile’ of vaccination programmes and make vaccinations possible – do not get the protection, recognition, equality, and pay that they deserve. Vaccines are... Read more...

Stop Telling Half The Story: The UK government must deliver on women’s leadership in 2021

Women and girls’ priorities must be central to crisis response, and the best way to make this happen is to have them lead efforts to prevent and respond. This briefing paper sets out how and why the UK in 2021 must be a global champion for... Read more...

Opening open government: Women’s rights organisations and the Open Government Partnership in the Philippines

This research was funded by the Feminist Open Government Initiative, which uses research and action to encourage governments and civil society to champion initiatives leading to gender advancements in and through open government. This includes... Read more...

Gender-based violence and COVID-19: The complexities of responding to ‘the shadow pandemic’

This CARE policy brief explores the unique factors of the COVID-19 pandemic that increase the risk of gender-based violence for girls and women, particularly in crisis-affected settings. The brief considers the implications for humanitarian and... Read more...

Transforming leadership, challenging injustice: CARE’s approach to achieving women’s equal voice and leadership in public life and decision-making

Women’s marginalisation in public life and under-representation in decision-making and leadership perpetuates gender injustice. Supporting women to have a say in decisions that affect their lives is a strategy for achieving equitable and... Read more...

Girl-driven change: Meeting the needs of adolesent girls during COVID-19 and beyond

As a result of the circumstances brought on by COVID-19, adolescent girls face myriad risks — ranging from an increased likelihood of exposure to violence and early marriage, to learning, health and economic losses. This report draws upon... Read more...