The climate crisis is a universal concern that threatens all living creatures. But why do women across the globe carry a heavier burden than men when it comes to dealing with its consequences?
The same way the health emergency unjustly affects Asians, black, and women in many aspects, climate change also presents critical issues to the select members of the community that need to be addressed.
About 80 percent of people who lost their jobs due to climate change are women, based on data from the United Nations (UN). A review of over 100 studies by the Global Gender and Climate Alliance in 2016 also reveals that women are more likely to face food insecurity caused by climate change. Next to severe weather conditions, it is said that women are more prone to suffer from mental issues and partner violence.
Nitya Rao, a professor who conducted research about gender equality in Africa and Asia, continents that have been gravely facing the impacts of climate change, said that countries like Nepal and India suffer from extreme droughts and floods that result in rising agricultural loss and livelihood shifts.
Households that heavily rely on agriculture tend to look for other sources of livelihood because of this circumstance. Men move to urban areas to find other work opportunities, while women are left to take care of the children, household work, and the family’s agriculture endeavors, said Rao. She added that women often land on more than one job if income from farming isn’t enough. Even though men often send money to their families, the shift in their routine puts more pressure on women, especially during the adjustment period when men are still looking for a new job that sometimes takes several months.
A study also showed that in some countries like the UK, women are likely to be laid off from their jobs, as observed during the onset of lockdown caused by the threats of COVID-19.
Julie Doyle, a professor in the UK that studies the role of media and communication in fighting climate change, said that having seen the situation of women amid the health crisis, gender inequalities in employment will likely happen again as climate change continues to take effect globally.
A study published by the journal Environmental Health in 2010 revealed that in Europe, women are also more likely to die during heat waves than men. One of the suggested reasons of the authors was related to the social conditions of elderly women who live alone.
Although women are resilient and adaptive in dealing with global warming, Rao said that they need assistance to mitigate the problems they encounter. This can be carried out through the enhancement of public health and sanitation, and food accessibility.
According to Doyle, to combat the gender-related outcomes of climate change, the participation of more women in decision-making is necessary. A separate research discovered that women-led countries have recorded fewer deaths from COVID-19.
Climate change is not merely an environmental concern, but also an issue of justice towards gender, race, and class. Doyle said that it is vital for this discussion to be part of the school curriculum and that climate change must not be separated from gender equality.
While the connection between gender inequalities and global warming may not always be apparent, it is important to raise such issues to prevent them from deepening and causing more concerns in the future.