Through research and analysis, Energy Point has found direct links between Climate Change and Gender Inequality. It is now clear that women and girls are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of the following reasons:
- Women and girls make up the majority of the global population living in poverty.
- Women and girls are more likely to use the land and natural resources for food an income; all of which are under constant threat from climate change.
- Women and girls are less likely to be in decision-making roles or positions of power across the world.
- Women and girls are more likely to be responsible in gathering resources such as food, water, fuel and heating – which are all under threat.
- In developing countries, women and girls are exposed to death and injury from natural disasters; which are only becoming more severe and frequent.
- Women and girls face the growing risk of gender-based violence during and after disasters, especially when forced to leave their homes/migrate due to climate change. This makes women and girls more vulnerable to rape, early marriage, adolescent pregnancy and human trafficking.
Women, Poverty, Power & Climate Change
70% of those who live in poverty are women; that means 7 in every 10 person in poverty is a woman. Whilst this is an issue in itself, we’re looking at how this negatively effects women experiencing extreme weather events or the consequences of climate change.
Because women are far more likely to live in poverty than men, this means that they are put in a vulnerable position – usually faced with the task of sourcing their own resources, food and water.
Climate change effects women gathering these resources, because global warming is increasing the scarcity of these supplies and damaging the land food is grown on, through drought, flooding and extreme heat.
Another issue which makes women more vulnerable to climate change is the fact that women hold less power in business, politics, community and in the household. Despite women having the knowledge and understanding of what is needed to adapt to changing environmental conditions – they are often overlooked and unheard – making climate change even more difficult to tackle.
Women across the world are restricted to education, financial resources, training and land – all of which makes them more vulnerable and widens the gender inequalities that climate change looks to exploit.
A IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) spokesperson said:“Unleashing the knowledge and capability of women represents an important opportunity to craft effective climate change solutions for the benefit of all.”
What can we do?
Really, it goes back to making the world a safer and fairer place for men and women; ensuring that everyone has equal access to resources, land and that gender roles are equally distributed, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman.
We can achieve this by treating people equally, wherever you go in the world and promoting gender equality for women at home and abroad.
Of course, eliminating gender inequality across the world is a massive issue and task, which can’t be easily done; doing so requires changing people’s minds and altering how some cultures work – no easy feat. The best way we can protect women and girls against climate change is to reduce our carbon emissions and our carbon footprints in our everyday lives.
Tyrese Garvie of Energy Point highlights some of the ways we can help resolve gender inequality:
“In every society, we should be educating men, where we can, to do better and treat women fairly and with kindness. Even if this means telling your mates, ‘hey, that’s not on’. Gender inequality may effect women in developing countries worse, but it is a global issue, here in the UK and beyond. Governments of developing countries can also increase their outreach into rural and poverty-stricken areas, where women and girls are more likely to be negatively effected by climate change and exploited by men.”
As mentioned in their previous insight ‘Climate Change and Migration 2021’, drought is a major issue that is faced by many different countries in the world; we found that at least 81% of the US was under ‘abnormally’ dry conditions in 2012 and this is something that is faced across the world. The issue of drought directly impacts women because, as we’ve discovered earlier, women use their land and resources to grow food and get water – if these sources of food and water are made scarce from drought, women living in poverty in developing countries, can have their income and health heavily effected.
Drought is being caused by the increase of global temperatures and through environmental degradation and destruction.
The future of gender inequality is interesting topic and it all depends on how we act now. All of the data says we need to take immediate action now, before it’s too late to make changes to our societies and to further save our environment and protect our fellow human beings from displacement, death, injury and exploitation.
Women are very clearly the backbone of every culture and society and it is completely unjust and unfair that they are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
However, we must also see how climate change effects men too in these environments.
Men and Climate Change
If looking at climate change with a gendered lens, it is clear to see that the biggest contributor to climate change is men – especially men in positions of power or those that own businesses that directly harm the environment.
However, just like women, men are vulnerable to climate change in their own way. Men can face a higher risk of suicide, than women, following extreme weather events; research in India and Australia shows that male farmers are at risk of suicide after droughts, which cause mass crop failures.
Margaret Alston of Monash University, Melbourne, Australia says:
“The rate of suicide amongst Australia’s rural men is significantly higher than rural women, urban men or urban women. There are many explanations for this phenomenon including higher levels of social isolation, lower socio-economic circumstances and ready access to firearms. Another factor is the challenge of climate transformation for farmers. In recent times rural areas of Australia have been subject to intense climate change events including a significant drought that has lingered on for over a decade. Climate variability together with lower socio-economic conditions and reduced farm production has combined to produce insidious impacts on the health of rural men. This paper draws on research conducted over several years with rural men working on farms to argue that attention to the health and well-being of rural men requires an understanding not only of these factors but also of the cultural context, inequitable gender relations and a dominant form of masculine hegemony that lauds stoicism in the face of adversity. A failure to address these factors will limit the success of health and welfare programs for rural men.”
In addition to this, a study in South Korea has found that increases in daily temperature were associated with increases in suicide rates for men from 2001 to 2005.
It’s already a well-known fact that, across the world, the suicide rate is twice as high than it is for women.
Men are also more likely to be at risk of being exposed to infectious diseases, as they are more frequently outside during work and leisure time. The risk of exposure is increased with the effects of climate change; mostly with flooding. Schistosomiasis (a debilitating disease caused by parasitic worms that pass from person to person in contaminated water) cases are set to rise with rising temperatures and flash flooding.