Many of us are very familiar with climate change and although some people choose to dispute its existence, it is very real and becoming a larger issue with larger implications every day. If you are not familiar with climate change, NASA defines it as “a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth's local, regional and global climates.” Examples of climate change include rising temperatures, more+worse forest fires, rising sea levels, increased and longer droughts, higher ocean temperatures, an increase of heavy rain, and shrinking glaciers. These effects of climate change are many things that we currently have witnessed. Recall the 376 week CA drought, Texas snowstorms, and several forest fires in the past year. So, with the context placed, climate change is an occurrence that disproportionately affects women. How? All of the effects that I mentioned above are more prone to negatively impact women because women are more likely to live in poverty, attain less basic human rights, and face instances of systematic violence which can increase during times of climate emergency.
In many countries, women are responsible for collecting vital resources such as water. But, as climate change gets worse, temperatures increase which dries up their sources of this basic necessity. Therefore, they have to travel farther to other regions to get water, ultimately limiting or diminishing the time they have to pursue education and attain income. As the Global Citizen Organization notes, “Stephanie Buechler studies the intersection of water scarcity and women’s rights along the US-Mexico border at the University of Arizona. She found that decreasing water availability impaired women’s ability to invest in their careers.” Collecting water for women is a demanding task as they spend up to 40 billion hours per year doing it, exemplifying their limitations for outside income and education.
Many women also work as farmers, making up 45-80% of farmers in developing countries, and the increasing droughts leading to the diminishment of water sources negatively affect their ability to work. “In Senegal, for instance, women have had to travel farther distances to retrieve water for everyday use, which limits their ability to be independent farmers”(Global Citizen organization). You may be thinking, well some men are farmers as well, so they must also be going through the same thing. Well, yes and no. Yes, male farmers are being negatively affected by increased droughts. However, women are disproportionately affected by occurrences like these due to their limitations on owning property, borrowing money for necessary farming practices, and accessing markets to sell their crops.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, women are susceptible to facing instances of systematic violence during climate emergencies. The intensification of climate change demonstrated through the lack of available resources and liveable land can lead to the emergence of groups that partake in efforts such as human trafficking and labor exploitation to attain scarce natural resources. Not surprising, women are most likely to be exploited in this regard. “In Northeastern Nigeria, the terrorist group Boko Haram has targeted populations, particularly women, who have been displaced from their land by drought”(GCO). Women are constantly taken advantage of and exploited when it comes to circumstances like this. Making up a large percentage of the world’s poor, they have limited access to food, and when they do, they usually have to reduce how much they eat in favor of other family members. Another astonishing fact is that women are more disposed to die in natural disasters and suffer increased risks afterward.
So, with all of the information I provided, I think you can get a clear view of the effects of climate change on women and how they are disproportionate in comparison to men’s issues. This does not mean I am invalidating men’s issues, they just cannot be reasonably compared. Women endure many hardships which the patriarchy intensifies and invalidates. We cannot make the same mistake. We must spread awareness and learn about these topics to make real change. Thank you for reading.
Video showing the hard work women do to collect water: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPxMOzN0Uq4&feature=youtu.be