Climate change impacts everyone, but not equally. It has profound adverse impacts on women due to existing social inequalities. therefore it is essential to mainstream gender into adaptation policies; says Eliangerasi Koka.
Climate change is a global issue. Although the associated impacts and adaptation strategies vary across the globe. There is an incontestably more destructive and noticeable impact on communities living in the Global South. Which have been more marginalised and have less resources to adapt to or respond to natural catastrophes. Climate change also exacerbates existing inequalities and impacts women more profoundly.
Climate Change Impacts Everyone. But Not Equally.
The impacts of climate change are not gender neutral. Women and girls experience the greatest impacts of climate change. These impacts increase existing gender inequalities and pose unique threats to their livelihoods, health, and safety. The societal roles and responsibilities attributed to women mean they often have less access to resources and information and are less included in decision-making, political participation and power structures. This results in women having lower adaptive capacities to cope with the impacts of a changing climate and as such, they face disproportionate negative impacts compared to men. This is particularly stark in Tanzania.
A Case Study in Tanzania.
Simanjiro District is one of the six districts of the Manyara Region of Tanzania. It is also a region that has experienced severe drought over the past few years, which has resulted in the loss of livestock, and consequently livelihood. During the summer months of 2021, I was conducting research for my Masters’ dissertation.
I observed that most of the livestock from this region was shifted to the mountains to find pasture. However, there was a lack of water resources in this area. Young women and girls were tasked to take water from the village, up to the mountain, more than 30 km away. First-hand accounts highlight tragic stories of girls being forced to drop out of school so that they could fetch water. Several girls also experienced sexual harassment and violence during this journey.
Mainstreaming Gender is Critical.
Mainstreaming gender equality in all climate policies, strategies and targets is critical. It ensures more effective, inclusive and sustainable climate action. That takes into account the different ways in which climate change affects different groups and in particular the disproportionate burden on women.
Women are not only affected by climate change differently than men, but they also contribute to climate change action in a different manner. Women have a crucial role to play in supporting their families and communities and in implementing mechanisms to adapt to climate change and mitigate its negative impacts. To do this, women must be represented in decision-making at all levels in order to be able to implement innovative and sustainable responses and solutions to the environmental challenges that arise.
Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash