• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Forgotten Women: the impact of climate change

ByIone Gildroy

Mar 24, 2023
School benches

As discussed throughout this issue, the climate crisis has wide-ranging impacts and effects on all of us, but we can’t talk about climate change and the climate crisis without talking about climate justice, as these effects are deeply and intrinsically linked with gender inequality.

Women and girls experience the greatest impacts of climate change, often feeling these impacts first and worst. Climate issues such as heat waves, droughts and extreme storms disproportionately affect women, and because of this, 80 per cent of people displaced by the climate crisis are women.

Women are more likely to live in poverty than men, have less access to basic human rights, bear a disproportionate responsibility for sourcing food, water and fuel, and face systemic violence that only increases in periods of precariousness.

These impacts are most clearly and extremely felt by women in the Global South, despite the fact that countries in the Global North contribute far more to climate change than those in the Global South do. The continent of Africa accounts for around 4 per cent of global carbon emissions, despite accounting for about 18 per cent of the world’s population. As we discuss and take time to think about what we can do about climate change, countries in the Global South are already feeling its effects.

Floods in Bangladesh, for example, have direct impacts on women and girls, on everything from schooling to increased risk of child marriage. The charity ActionAid spoke with a 13-year-old girl, Adori, from a northern district of Bangladesh, who was forced to miss school because of flooding. Adori also said she is finding it more difficult to do her schoolwork because her father had to leave home to find work in the city, and she had to help her mother more at home. Adori said “I love to go to school and never miss or not attend… (but) last one month our school was closed because of flood. I felt bad and missed…school so much.”

This isn’t an unusual case. The Malala Fund estimates that climate change forces at least 12.5 million girls to leave school, in 30 climate-vulnerable countries. Not being able to access schooling has a direct impact on these girls’ future and then has an impact on communities and economies.

As climate change worsens, women will struggle the most. The Paris climate agreement includes specific provisions to ensure that women aren’t left behind because of climate change, but this isn’t enough right now. Across the world, women and girls are being forced to drop out of school, face issues finding work, and are put at a greater risk of violence and child marriage. It’s crucial that we don’t leave women behind in our efforts to fight climate change.

Image: Madagascar: Empty Classroom” by Global Partnership for Education – GPE is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

By Ione Gildroy

Former Deputy Editor-in-Chief Former News Editor