Today, Wednesday 8th March 2017, is International Women’s Day and I thought it would be appropriate to think about women around the world whose lives are impacted by our changing climate.
Women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change mostly because they make up the majority of the world’s poorest population and their livelihoods are more dependent on natural resources that are threatened by climate change. There are also cultural, economic and political barriers that hamper their ability to cope with the changing climate.
Women are normally given the responsibility to secure water, food and fuel for cooking and heating for the rest of the family but have unequal access to resources and decision-making processes.
Women often have the knowledge and expertise that can be used in climate change mitigation, disaster reduction and adaptation strategies. Women’s responsibilities in households and communities positions them well to contribute to strategies to changing environmental pressures.
Food and Water
In many African countries the agricultural workforce is 90% female and at times of food scarcity it is the women who go often without in preference to the men. All over the developing world, women and girls have the job of fetching water for their families and spend significant amounts of time getting water from distant sources. As our climate warms, sources of water become more difficult to find and when the rains do come they are increasingly causing floods that can devastate crops and homes.
Climate change both causes and is caused by, a loss of biodiversity. This biodiversity provides people with food, livelihoods and wood to burn for fuel. As land use change increases the source of these resources becomes more distant from places of habitation, it is usually the women who must scour larger and larger areas to find the things they need for day to day living.
What can we do to improve the plight of women around the world impacted by climate change?
· Mitigation – it is imperative we in the more prosperous countries work harder to reduce our green-house gas emissions; our lifestyle is unfairly affecting those who have made no contribution to the problems the globe now faces.
· Adaptation – adapt and prepare the environment to be resilient to the changing climate Finance – women need to have access to finance to help them adapt to change.
· Finance – women need to have access to finance to help them adapt to change. This could be financial support via charities like Water Aid or via Fairtrade products so decent wages are paid to poorer communities, to help with technology and mitigation.
· Technology – there are many technological advances that could be used to improve the lot of women in the global south from simple water storage and irrigation solutions to renewable energy.
· Skills & resource – there are numerous programmes offering support to areas where need is greatest, often in times of crisis, for example where people have mapping skills http://www.globalmapaid.org, for those with waste management skills https://wasteaid.org, etc.
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