Why Women Are Particularly Vulnerable To Climate Change

Drought in Uttar Pradesh, India – Prabhat Kumar Verma/ZUMA  

BOGOTÁ — Is there a relation between women and the environment? Is it necessary to view environmental policies through female eyes? Is there is a difference in the male and female relationship to the matter? The response to all these is a definite “yes.”

Around the world, women are the most interactive with natural resources, especially in rural communities in the global South. In such areas, women produce between 60% and 80% of foodstuffs, according to figures from the World Food Program.

Within historically defined roles, rural women are also those tasked with supplying their households and communities with water. In Colombia, in a department like La Guajira in the north, this is the day-to-day life of a woman or girl in a Wayú community. The most common situation is finding a well or waterhole at one or two-hours walking distance from the settlement, though in some cases they might have to trek as much as four hours — each way!

In other words, they can spend a full working day just to fetch water, which in any case is almost never potable. Needless to say, that leaves no time for study, or for engaging in activities to earn a personal income.

 Women will bear the biggest brunt. 

Again, given the gender roles that exist in such rural communities, all of this will affect women and children in particular.

A related issue is the fact that in most rural areas, women are also responsible for preparing the food. And to cook, they use biomass fuel — firewood mostly. This may initially seem harmless and I know from visits to local communities that the sancocho soup prepared on firewood provides a most eagerly awaited family occasion. But constant contact with wood smoke can have dire consequences for health, including a very high probability of contracting respiratory illnesses when smoke is inhaled close up.

Biomass fuels likewise emit greenhouse gases like CO2 and carbon monoxide, which fuel climate change. Rural women are key subjects, therefore, in the transition to new energies in lower-income countries.

Separately, women tend to suffer the most from both natural calamities and armed conflict. More women die than men in such events due to both direct and indirect causes. Paradoxically, it is not the disaster itself that kills women but structural gender roles — such as having to care for children, the elderly and the sick — that make them more vulnerable. MORE

 

There Is No Planet B: Women have always been at the forefront of climate justice


Climate change demonstrators protest in central Stockholm, Sweden.

Young women like Greta Thunberg and Isra Hirsi are making headlines for leading the most recent global protests against climate change. But it’s important to remember that women have always been at the forefront of climate justice, because they are disproportionately affected by environmental issues.

Eighty percent of the people (pdf) affected by climate change are women, for several reasons. Natural disasters disproportionately affect poor communities, and women make up 70% (pdf) of people living in poverty. Social norms demand that mothers act as the primary providers of food for their families, which can be harder to do under conditions like flooding and droughts. Additionally, violence against women increases (pdf) after a natural disaster because of increased traumatic stress, scarcity of basic supplies, and destruction of authoritative systems. American women are more likely than men to believe in climate science, possibly because women feel they are the most affected by it.

Since 2014, women have been the public face of the climate movement. They led the first People’s Climate March, which attracted over 400,000 people worldwide, most of them women (pdf). Participation in climate protests has increased over the past five years as more young people get involved. Sept. 20 marked the largest worldwide climate strike yet, with most cities counting more than 100,000 protestors. Vastly dominated by women, especially women of coloryoung people, and indigenous groups, the climate movement is gaining momentum.

Activism is an important part of bringing awareness to the effects of climate change, but women would be able to do more to combat them if they were more often included in decision-making. Women only made up 22% of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) national climate delegation heads in 2018, suggesting that gender parity in the negotiations will not be reached until 2042.

On the national scale, one 2005 study found (pdf) that countries with a high proportion of women in parliament are more likely to endorse global environmental initiatives, suggesting that women’s participation in decision-making is important for strides in climate change. Furthermore, when women are involved in disaster planning and response, their different perspective and distinct experiences can offer solutions and plans (pdf) that men do not always come up with on their own.

To Emilie Slotine, a frontline activist at Greenpeace USA, we wouldn’t have climate change without capitalism, a model that assumes perpetual economic growth from the planet’s finite resources. It’s a patriarchal economic model that has historically been perpetuated by men and has always overlooked people of color, women, and marginalized groups,” Slotine tells Quartz.

Women are already making contributions to how the world is combatting climate change, but they could do more if more of them were elected into office or appointed to lead climate-related international committees. As the OGs and consistent faces battling environmental issues, the largest contributors to sustainable efforts (pdf), and the group most willing to make sacrifices (pdf) to reduce emissions, women are trying to save the planet and we should all do more to support them. SOURCE

What Women Know About the Internet

The digital world is not designed to keep women safe. New regulations should be.

CreditCreditJoan Wong

Like too many women, I’ve been harassed online. The harasser described in explicit detail how he intended to violate me, though somehow his threats didn’t violate Twitter’s terms of service. Twitter, despite my repeated reports, did nothing.

So I did. I gradually tightened my privacy settings across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I mostly stopped sharing personal, nonwork-related updates and deleted photos of my children; I haven’t posted new pictures for more than a year.

I’m a tech journalist, so perhaps I am extra-sensitive to the dangers of the internet. But my concerns are widely shared by other women.

Several studies have found that women are more concerned about privacy risks online than men and are more likely to keep their profiles private and delete unwanted contacts. Female Italian college students are less likely to share their political views and relationship status than men and are more concerned about risks posed by other users and third parties. Norwegian women post fewer selfies than Norwegian men.

In other words, digital privacy is a women’s issue. We just don’t think about it that way, or discuss it that way. Of course, privacy is a concern for everyone, but this is also an issue, like health care, on which women have a particular view. Women know, for example, what consent really means. It’s not scrolling through seemingly endless “terms of service” and then checking a box. Online consent, just as it is with our bodies, should be clear, informed and a requirement for online platforms. MORE

 

 

These women are changing the landscape of Antarctic research

Polar science used to be dominated by men. An expedition to Thwaites Glacier is helping change that.

Image result for thwaites glacier
Prof David Vaughan: “I believe this is the biggest field campaign ever run in Antarctica”

Up on the helicopter deck Meghan Spoth and Victoria Fitzgerald practice setting up camp. Just over Spoth’s shoulder a mile-wide tabular iceberg slides past, revealing the piercing cobalt at the berg’s cold center. Spoth pulls at the brim of her condor-embroidered ballcap and tosses a roll of duct tape to Fitzgerald.

The two young researchers, who hail from the University of Maine and Alabama respectively, have come to the Amundsen Sea, a rarely explored corner of the Antarctic continent, to better understand the rate at which the Thwaites Glacier disintegrated in the past so that modelers might make more accurate estimates of how fast sea levels will rise in the coming century.

The women lash their tarp tent to the deck. Sharp blasts of air rattle the plastic lean-to. They slide underneath to practice maneuvering in total darkness, a prerequisite for the kind of luminescence dating methods they plan to employ. This is a simulation of the work that Spoth and Fitzgerald will carry out in the coming days on the Lindsey and Schafer Islands, archipelagos so remote that human foot-fall has never before rung from many of these glacially scoured mounds. The team, headed up by Brenda Hall of the University of Maine, will be looking for paleontological records—things like seal skin and penguin bones—to help them better understand just how quickly the ice withdrew during the last deglaciation. MORE