Women And Climate Change
All women feel it, and all men know, it is critical to strive towards gender equality worldwide. International Women’s Day on March 8 2018, required reflection, conversation and action. This year, the day was packed with protests and celebrations all across the world, a day standing together as a united force to advance gender equality.
When it comes to climate change “gender” is perhaps not a word that first springs to mind, but climate change is a global challenge that burdens all of humanity and not equally. The world’s poor, the majority of whom are women, are hindered disproportionately. The impact of climate change on families are exacerbated in locations also affected by violent conflict, political turmoil and economic strife.
Climate change manifests itself in variety of ways; sudden one off events may destroy lives, homes and livelihoods in a single day, while slow-onset processes change the landscape for survival gradually over time. For example, the preposterous levels of carbon in our environment, are causing more intense natural disasters to occur. Global research shows that women are 14 times more likely to die than men due to disaster and in the wake of 2004 tsunami, Oxfam reported that surviving men outnumbered women by almost 3:1 in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. In the immediate aftermath, emergency shelters can be inadequately equipped to support women and children and later on often the best and only jobs available are in construction or rebuilding efforts, which are traditionally male-dominated.
In central Africa, where up to 90% of Lake Chad has disappeared, indigenous groups are at high risk. As the lake’s shoreline recedes, women have to walk much further to collect water. Alternatively, flooding and sea level rise destroy crop production and cause sanitation problems, which seriously affect women’s ability to provide resources for themselves and their families.
We cannot and will not solve climate change, without tackling and empowering women first. Whereas attempt to avert global warming by cutting emissions is not exactly racing forward, adaptation to climate change is well under way. In recognition of the vast disparity, governments and organisations working on climate change must move to include women voices in policy and planning. By including women in the decision making processes, politics and viewing them as key actors who have critical knowledge of their society, economy and environment will be effective in risk adaptation.
March 8th highlighted a day in the year when we must commit to women’s progress, learning and making our future brighter and more equal than our history. To simply put it, climate change unfairly affects women. By reducing your carbon footprint and helping the planet, you are also committing to an act of gender equality. Ocean Generation hopes you will take this lesson further than reading articles online and get out and do something. That doesn’t necessarily mean protesting in the streets 12 hours a day but perhaps doing something little practical each day to reduce your carbon footprint like saying no to plastic bottles or straws, will make the world a better place for women of all backgrounds, incomes and identities!
@Ocean Generation has dedicated the month of March to researching more women doing amazing things in the climate space. After a little digging, we realised there are too many unsung female heroes tackling climate change and we are taking it upon ourselves to recognise as many as possible! Stay tuned on our socials.
@Ocean Generation proudly supported Northeastern University’s Women Who Empower Our World event, at the Ham Yard Hotel, London. Our #TheLastStraw bamboo straws were available to guests in the bar areas, with the intention to raise awareness about ocean pollution and providing an alternative to plastic straws.
Alam M, Bhatia R, Mawby B (2015) Women and Climate Change. Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.
Halton, M. (2018) Climate Change ‘Impacts Women More Than Men’. BBC Science & Environment.