Climate change exacerbates existing inequality and injustice experienced by women.
Here’s why they are disproportionately affected:
- Women make up the majority of people experiencing inequality and injustice. 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty globally are women. Most of these women live in rural areas and rely on agriculture to survive. More frequent cyclones, floods and droughts make it harder to rely on traditional farming to provide for their families which puts them on the frontlines of the effects of climate change.
- Women are more dependent on threatened natural resources. Women are usually responsible for collecting water, food and firewood for cooking. As climate change makes these natural resources more-scarce, women must walk farther and work harder to feed their families.
- Women are saddled with the burden of caring for their communities. Women do most of the unpaid work to care for their children, people with disability, the sick and the elderly. When an extreme weather disaster hits, it is women who will put their own lives in danger to evacuate the community’s most vulnerable members and care for the injured.
- Women have limited access to positions of power and decision making. Women in countries with deeply patriarchal societies don’t have the opportunity to participate in economic and political life or influence policy. Women are rarely consulted on decisions about the responses to climate change and disasters, so the needs of women and their families are often overlooked.
- Women and girls have less access to training and education. With climate change reducing crop harvests, families living in poverty don’t have the money to keep their children in school and girls are forced to drop out first. Girls who aren’t in school are at a higher risk of child marriage and female genital mutilation, not to mention a lack of education impacts a woman’s future potential to earn an income.
- Women experience heightened gender-based violence during disasters and emergencies. 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. As women are forced to abandon the safety of their homes, it increases their risk of experiencing gender-based violence including sex trafficking and rape. Women are often forced to sell sex to survive while young girls are sold into marriage by their families.
Climate change is a feminist issue and has a disproportionate effect on women. However, women can be powerful agents for change within their communities.
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