Image: Feminists protesting from unsplash
Climate change, a global crisis caused by the change of weather temperatures over a period of time affects everyone but its effects are felt differently by gender. Women in developing countries are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change because they depend on the environment for their livelihood. They have less access to basic human rights, are less likely to be involved in the decision-making process, and are easy targets for diseases due to poor environmental factors and hygiene caused by climate change. Just like a krabby patty, the climate change gender disparity has a secret ingredient, Feminism. Feminism, the social, political, and economic equality of the genders can minimize the negative effects by including women who have suffered the consequences of climate change at the forefront of tackling the problem.
I'd like to point out that in extreme weather temperatures and drought mean women have to travel a long distance to collect water for the household. In Senegal, a projection of 1-3°C increase in temperatures in Senegal will lead to conflict, displacement and forced migration meaning women have to shelter in internally displaced camps where they often lack privacy and sanitary hygiene.
Image: Infographic describing the effects of climate change on women in Senegal on www.createaction.org
Younger girls in schools are either prematurely married off in exchange for food or money or forced to drop out of school because their family's source of income has been cut short due to climate change. Maternal mortality, perinatal mortality, stillbirths, and premature delivery are also not uncommon side effects associated to increase in temperature and air pollution caused by climate change.
Shefali, a 25-year-old Bengali shared the story of her sister, a pregnant woman who had gone into labour during the heavy floods in Bangladesh. She and her sister were isolated and couldn’t get medical help because the hospital far away, and swimming the distance in the flood is dangerous for a woman in her sister’s condition. Without a doubt, exposure to several flood diseases is risky for the mother and baby
As far as I'm concerned women being the most affected by climate change have crucial knowledge on practical methods of adapting to the changing climate especially in key sectors like agriculture. According to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) women make up approximately 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries.
In Sudan, a women farmer’s organisation, Zenab for Women In Development has empowered over 400 women farmers in six communities. The farmers were supported with seed distribution resulting in an increase in crop production, promotion of good nutrients, and environmental preservation.
When provided with the same social, political, and economic resources as men, women can increase their agricultural yields by 20 to 30 percent, not only stepping up total agricultural output in these countries by 2.5 to 4 percent but also contributing to world hunger-reduction by 12 or 17 percent, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization for United Nations.
Image: The interlinkage between SDG 5 and other SDGs from UN WOMEN
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, Gender equality is one of the most important SDGs because of its interconnection to the other SDGs. A gender-equal environment will breed the ideal grounds to elevate quality education, poverty alleviation, clean energy, reduced inequalities, good health and wellbeing, zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth, and most importantly, climate action.
But the question of “how?” remains. How can women be a bigger part of the climate change action? women's participation and expertise can be encouraged in the climate negotiation process by establishing and supporting women environmental organisations and networks, educating women at community levels on environmental adaptation, raising awareness, and advocating for international and national allocation of funds towards gender-responsive programs, and developing and implementing gender considerations in governmental regulations and policy making.
Men and male groups should also actively be allies of women’s participation in tackling climate change by supporting and identifying the wide benefits of gender-neutral decision making, calling out inequalities, and actively listening to women’s perspectives.
In conclusion, the intersection of climate action and feminism is important in the demand for climate action, it highlights the injustices and disparity associated with global disasters. Coming together as humanity regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or economic status will help us meet the United Nations sustainable development goals and adapt to climate change easier and faster. The equal contribution will result in equal benefits.