Part 2 - Climate Change Is Sexist
I thought I got global warming. But I still left lights on in rooms I wasn’t in and recycled only when it was easy. Then Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord and I was so fucking pissed and confused I decided to write a piece about climate change and feminism. I researched for hours and each fact I learned felt like a punch in the gut. Yesterday I peed in the dark, turned down the heat, and recycled my shopping bags.
I’m embarrassed that it’s taken Trump to wake me up to how climate change is bringing its own particular brand of misery and death to women and girls. That it is our sisters and daughters and mothers and friends who will face the consequences first.
In the developing world the responsibility of collecting water, tending “kitchen” gardens and gathering fuel for fires falls almost exclusively to women and girls. This means that:
When resources like water and wood become more unreliable the walk to reach them gets longer. The hours women and girls spend every day on these arduous tasks make it impossible for them to go to school, and limit their ability to earn an income, acquire additional skills, or sit just down.
The overwhelming majority of the world’s poorest people are women and as such they are significantly more dependent on water, wood and small farming than men are. When climate disasters like droughts and floods strike, the daily female struggle for survival, let alone an income, becomes insurmountable.
When food shortages become more frequent and dire, women’s and girl's’ health suffers first because when food becomes scarce, men’s and boys’ nutritional needs are often given higher priority.
Around the world women’s lower incomes make it necessary for them to be economically dependent on men.
During water shortages or unseasonable rains, agricultural production is threatened. Men are more able to adapt to these new circumstances because they have accrued more savings and have the cultural and economic independence to seek alternative sources of income.
Women’s and girls’ lack of access to information and education means that they are often unaware of ways to manage climate risks to their farms, gardens and livestock.
Women in India have significantly less access to vital information about weather reports and cropping patterns which affects their ability to respond quickly and effectively in the short and long term.
In many cultures women’s insufficient independence and decision-making ability make them powerless to adapt to climate change. Women are alarmingly underrepresented in local politics, minimizing the influence they have in proposing solutions and policies that address their rights and needs.
If women aren’t invited, let alone allowed, to sit at the table with male influencers and lawmakers, decisions about replacing traditional crops with those better suited to climate change invariably focus on the needs of men's fields, and not on the problems women face in their household gardens.
The consequences of global warming and increased humidity have greater consequences for women. For example, in some regions, rising temperatures mean an increase in the transmission of malaria. Various physiological changes, such as increased exhaled breath and heat dissipation, make pregnant women more appealing to malaria-carrying mosquitoes, leaving them particularly vulnerable.
I am relying on myself and everyone else who identifies as a feminist to educate ourselves on all the ways climate change is making women’s and girls’ lives harder. If you are already conscious of the impact of your carbon footprint, bravo! If like me you’ve been way too blase don’t worry, you can start today…..