How climate change affects women?

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saddam hussain samo
The writer is a climate journalist at National Dialogue on Climate Change (NDCC). He can be reached at saddam.samo@gmail.com

When it comes to climate change, women are often neglected without realizing the fact that they suffer more than men because of its hazardous consequences. Very recently, the impacts of climate change on women have been highlighted on the social media, mainly, by women themselves to create awareness about how they act as the front liners and face numerous difficulties. It is, therefore, imperative to discuss about how climate change affects women and make their life difficult and struggling.

Women are mothers and they are concerned about the future of their children. There is no blinking the fact that the future of coming generation is bleak owing to the injurious ramifications of climate change like drought, heat waves, floods and so on. These events will cause some serious health issues among the children. According to WHO, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress. Hence, these are women who will suffer more because of their emotional attachment with their children. Thus, whether these are boys who fell ill, these are always women who experience the pain.

Women are the heads of households and worried about the food security of their families. The connection between climate change and food scarcity is obvious. Climate change results in irregular rainfall patterns and drought. These both factors can cause a serious food crisis. For instances, the unwanted rainfall at the harvest time of crop can negatively affect the agriculture yield. Thus, if the globe experiences the food crisis in future owing to climate change, it will be women and not men who will suffer more and strive to arrange food for their families.

Floods, caused by climate change, damage the public infrastructure like hospitals and schools and make women to suffer more. Owing to their reproductive duties, women instead of men often use public health care system. Hence, non-availability of public hospitals, because of climate disasters, will result in more women mortality during pregnancies. For instances, in 1988, 71 mothers died while giving birth to babies in Tanzania. The death rate was recorded 4 times more as compared to in 1987. It was because the government cut health expenditure on the pressure of IMF. Besides, the poor families will prefer to enroll boys in the limited schools left after the disasters. Hence, it will contribute to overall low girls literacy rate in any country vulnerable to climate change. As such, in the both cases, it will be women who will suffer more at the hand of climate change.

Climate change causes women violence such as sexual exploitation and human trafficking. After climate disasters caused by floods or drought, women find themselves the most vulnerable. During these crises, a practice of giving young girls to aged people in marriage to reduce the burden of the family is seen as a normal routine in most of the countries. Besides, many women are susceptible to rape and harassment when they migrate from one place to another. During 2010 floods in Pakistan, one volunteer worker narrated a story of how he saw corpse of women who was first sexually harassed. Thus, these are women who face different violence during climate disasters.

Climate change also poses a grave threat to the employment of the women. Most of the women, particularly in Asia and Africa, are engaged in agricultural sector to meet their daily household needs. For instances, in Africa, 8 out of 10 and in Asia 6 out of 10 women are farmers. Besides, out of 47 million employed people in Pakistan, 9 million are women with 70 per cent working in agricultural sector. As already mentioned, climate change will decrease agriculture yield and thus, results in unemployment of women in many countries. Afterward, the women would not be able to feed their families and fulfill other requirement of their children.

Thus, climate change affects women more than man and it is the responsibility of women to raise their voices and force the contributors countries to stop polluting the environment by switching from non-renewable to renewable source of energy. This is a serious issue for women and only they can win the battle against it.

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