Women and children severely affected by climate change, but absent from politics

Evidence shows that as climate-related problems increase at an increasing rate, so does their burden on women and children. However, there is still a lack of policies that show sensitivity towards women and children. Especially when it comes to policy to address climate change.

Speaking to Mongabe-India on the issue, Padma Venkataraman, president of the Indian Women’s Association, says the “lack of understanding” is at the root of climate policies that are not gender sensitive. The Indian Women’s Association, in partnership with Gender-CC, is leading the Women for Climate Justice project under GUCCI (Gender in Urban Climate Change Initiative). So that climate policies can be made more gender sensitive. “During one of the workshops with policy makers and government officials to examine social and gender issues, many officials agreed that they never thought about how weather disasters affected women even more. Eh.”

Venkataraman said he is analyzing the current policies that are part of this project. To achieve this, meetings are being held with the associated people and workshops are being organized. The impacts of climate change adaptation and mitigation are being assessed from a gender perspective. On this basis, policy recommendations will be presented to the government.

In addition, she adds that such an initiative has been taken by the Mumbai, Calcutta and Delhi branches of the Indian Women’s Association. “In Chennai, we are creating new skills among women in the fishing community. In which they are told how to use technology and how chemicals and plastics are harmful to the ocean and its people.

People of different genders express their views on the growing incidence of climate change in different ways. Image – Oxfam / Flickr

People of different genders have expressed their views on the growing incidence of climate change in different ways. ActionAid’s Debabrata Patra said that when Cyclone Fani devastated Odisha in 2019, it was found that “women came last to the shelters and left first during the cyclone.” While according to the protocol, children and women should be taken to safe places first. Padma Venkataraman said that when the tsunami caused severe destruction in 2004, most of the men fled to safe places at the time. Women dared to return to carry their children and essential valuables and risked their lives.

Experts specifically stress that women’s responses to disasters are different from those of men. This should be taken into account when designing optimization policies.

Migration due to climate disaster increases the burden on women

In Odisha, in the seaside villages, the home is mostly women, as most men in the 20-45 age group have migrated to the cities to work. The increase in soil salinity, frequent cyclones and floods, has made agriculture a challenge for the people there. As stated above, when men go elsewhere to work, then the whole burden of the household falls on the women. In this situation, they do any work to care for children, the elderly and their camps so that the source of income continues.

A recent report by the Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) on displacement and migration due to climate change in India suggests that by 2050, 45 million people will have to migrate by force to the country. The reason for this will be climate-related disasters, a figure that will be three times higher than the current figure.

“Climate change, of course, leads to devastation and displacement. This migration is a big burden for women, “the report says, adding that women have to work an additional 12 to 14 hours. It includes agricultural and household chores. The report says , moreover, that “feminization of agriculture” has been found in all researchers ’studies.

Favorable policies for the population

Jyoti Parikh, director of Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe), in one of her research papers – Is Climate Change a Gender Issue, highlighted the burden on women due to inconsistent climate change. She has suggested that the government develop a strategy that increases women’s access to and control over natural resources.

“While the understanding and participation of women in the survival of the entire community in the event of a disaster has been critical, the government must recognize their special skills in livelihood management in mitigation and adaptation measures.” he said.

Only 40 percent of those at high risk are countries that mention children and youth in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). photo – paul / pixahive

Bidhubhushan Mohapatra, of the Population Council, said climate policies should not be limited to a solution-centric approach, but a population-centric approach should be adopted. “Such a solution-oriented approach does not take into account population structure, mobility, the social problems associated with any community or the risks faced by the most needy sectors of society,” he said. “Now is the perfect time for researchers to investigate the social consequences, and our policymakers take them into account and take them into account when planning strategies.”

Mohapatra further said population-centered research investigates the growing threats to women and children. For example, especially in a climatic zone where people face calamitous weather, these places can turn out to be safe havens for trafficking in women and children.

Grassroots organizations point out that natural disasters, such as annual floods, put the lives of women and children in serious trouble. This facilitates the path of their smuggling.

Children are also at risk

A UNICEF report published in 2021 cites the Child Climate Risk Index (CCRI), which is based on the impact of natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and droughts on children. This report shows India with a child climate risk index (CCRI) of 7.4, which is extremely vulnerable to these disasters.

The report said any disaster takes children away from essential services such as health, nutrition, education and social security. In difficult times, all of these facilities reach children sooner or later. These children who are already helpless by their influence, are now becoming more helpless. However, it says, “Only 40 percent of those at high risk are countries that mention children and youth in their nationally determined (NDC) contributions.” India is not one of the countries to mention.

In addition, according to the latest Save the Children research, children born the year before are two to seven times more likely to be exposed to catastrophic weather events than their grandparents. This means they will have to deal with much more heat, drought, crop failures and terrible forest fires than their grandparents. Although efforts are being made to address many of these challenges.

The Assam State Action Plan on Climate Change (2015-2020), under Strategies-Urban Health, is conducting a study to assess the relationship between climate change and malnutrition, especially in children . So that any kind of connection between these two can be understood. Assam is one of the states in all the Himalayan regions of India that is most vulnerable to climate change.

(This article was originally published in Mongabay.)

banner photo: A woman stopped next to a damaged road after Cyclone Yas in West Bengal. There is enough global evidence to show that women are more affected by climate change. Image: Sumita Roy Dutta / Wikimedia Commons

Leave a Comment