Oxfam’s Sisters on the Planet initiative recognizes that climate change hits poor people hardest—especially poor women, who are disproportionately affected. As their website states:
People like to talk about global warming like it’s a problem to deal with in the future. But the reality is that poor people are already struggling with it right now. You don’t have to go to drought-riddled Ethiopia or flood-threatened Cambodia or malaria-prone South Africa to witness it. Just take a trip to the hurricane-battered US Gulf Coast or look at the damage done by the wildfires in California. Climate change kills off crops, destroys homes, and creates massive refugee problems. There’s no time to waste. We must help poor communities deal with the effects right now…
If we act quickly, we can reduce the damaging impact that climate change has on poor people’s lives and livelihoods. But if we fail to help in time, they will suffer far greater damage, and at a much higher human and financial cost.
Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) recently presented an extensive report on women and climate change to the British House of Commons. The report documents how catastrophe related to climate change will have a much greater impact on women. Entitled ‘Engendering Change’, the report points out that because of ongoing gender inequality, different social roles, and simple biology, women are more likely to die in extreme weather conditions, to suffer from increased workload, and be subject to abuse, including sexual violence, in resource conflicts exacerbated by climate change. As their Women & Climate Change blog states:
The report’s conclusions include a sobering fact, that women constitute up to 80% of climate refugees, that 20 million women have already lost their homes and livelihoods due to climate change related weather chaos. The IPCC says that extreme weather conditions are set to increase and become more frequent. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction shows clearly that since 1970 the numbers of extreme weather events has increased from around 25 per year for floods to 200 per year with incidences of droughts, wind storms and related disasters also increasing. As we discovered in Copenhagen, climate change is already causing chaos around the world and disproportionately claiming women’s lives, safety and health.
If you are a woman, or you have a wife or a daughter or a mother that you care about, use this International Women’s Day to take action to ensure a better, safer future for them. Some of things each of us can do are:
Tell our political leaders that climate change is an urgent issue and needs to be addressed. Click here for more on how to do this.
If you are in the US, click here to go to the “action” page of Sisters on the Planet, and sign up to become a sister (or brother).
Click here to visit the Women’s Environmental Network blog.