Women and Climate Change

There’s a great piece on RH Reality Check today on the fact that while global climate change is, at long last, getting the attention it deserves, there needs to be more focus on how women are being disproportionately affected – particularly in low-income countries.

While studies have shown that natural disasters shorten women’s life expectancy significantly more than men’s as well as contribute to reproductive and maternal health problems, there are also inequalities in everyday life experiences resulting from climate change:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that women produce 60-80 percent of food grown in the developing world — often small scale crops critical to their family’s sustenance. Women and girls are responsible for collecting and carrying water — a time consuming and physically demanding task in places where wells are not easily accessible. In some places, this work takes hours each day, and as communities cope with the effects of changes in climate, demands on women’s time and workloads are likely to increase.

The piece raises up a lot of questions to be answered, and a few potential ways to improve women’s status during global climate change, like giving them more decision-making power in disaster prevention and preparedness programs and disaster recovery operations and increasing female participation in national talks about climate change. The author says it best:

The world needs more women-centered research and strategies for climate change adaptation, and the world’s large emitters must shoulder the responsibility for their impacts on the world’s poorest populations in order to see a world that is more equitable, healthy, able to prevent catastrophic climate change, and to adapt to its impacts.