LASER TALK: Women and Climate Change

Women currently are and will continue to be disproportionately impacted by climate change. Climate change disproportionally affects women due to a lack of power and increased social exclusion in some parts of the world. Note men and boys also have unique vulnerabilities to climate change. This can be addressed through a process of gender mainstreaming, that is, ensuring that gendered concerns are addressed and that the policy or practice does not further existing gender inequalities.

Climate change is and will lead to more competition over resources which in turn leads to conflict and violence. The Syrian Civil War is a harbinger of things to come.  Conflict amplifies existing gender inequalities.  Under such conditions, women will suffer the consequences of conflict such as rape, violence, anxiety, and depression.

As well, water stress and food shortages brought on by climate change will lead to an increase in women’s labour in many contexts as they have the primary responsibility of collecting water and working in agriculture in many parts of the world. Related increases in food prices make food more inaccessible to poor people, in particular to women and girls whose health has been found to decline more than male health in times of food shortages. Furthermore, women are often excluded from decision-making on access to and the use of land and resources critical to their livelihoods.

Lastly, gender differences in death rates attributable to natural disasters have been linked directly to women’s economic and social rights. Women are more vulnerable to death in extreme weather events. For example, social prejudices in parts of the world keep women and girls from learning to swim, and as a result, they are more vulnerable to flooding disasters.

Most women can’t just move. They are less mobile due to their roles as primary caregivers making it difficult for them to move as an adaptive response to a rapidly changing climate or conflict.

Sadly, women are only 12% of those that lead the global climate policy negotiations and the planet is on course for a dangerous 3-4 C increase in global temperatures.

Thankfully on March 2, the Honourable Catherine McKenna (Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister) declared that Canada will be sticking to its commitments under the Paris climate change deal on a phone call with Scott Pruit, the USA’s Chief of the Environment and Protection Agency (EPA).

As well, a February 2017  poll found that two-thirds of Canadians approve of Canada’s climate actions.

We have made progress. More is yet to come.




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