Climate crisis is a problem that affects everyone in the world. It is the most serious threat that could lead to a global crisis of health. The irreversible climate change and rapid increase in global warming are affecting women in more ways that you can imagine. Climate change is directly linked to gender because it has an impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of many women.
The Lancet CommissionIt is estimated that more than 200 million women desire, but do not have access to, modern contraceptives. Every year, 76 million unintended pregnancies are caused by this. Because contraception, reproductive health and climate change are all interconnected, it is important that you use the gender lens when addressing climate crisis. This will ensure that comprehensive and effective coping strategies.
The relationship between women’s reproductive health and climate change
The problem of our interaction with the environment is highlighted by climate change. It also exposes the inequalities existing in our patriarchal society, which is dominated by men. Unwanted pregnancies are also on the rise as many women are denied contraception access worldwide. Since 2011, 11.5 million women access to contraception have been cut off and the global safe abortion rate and contraception metrics are only expected to rise in the coming decade.
Stigmatization of abortion has been a result of strict abortion laws and patriarchal, religious and moral sentiments about the topic in many countries. The rapid increase in pregnancy rates leads to an increase in population, which increases the carbon footprint of an individual and contributes to the climate crisis.
This issue has been further exacerbated by the lack of global political engagement. The Lancet Commission report states, “A studyThe UN Framework Convention on Climate Change received 40 National Adaptation Programmes of Actions (NAPAs), from least developed countries. It was found that 37 of these countries made the connection between climate change and population growth. Only six of them included family planning in their adaptation strategy..”
Climate change and women’s bodily autonomy
Contraception is an essential necessity for all women and birth givers, as it protects against unwanted pregnancies. prevents pregnancy related health risks.Contraception isn’t just a medical necessity. The. World Health Organization says, “Access to contraceptive methods is a fundamental human right. It allows people to have access to their preferred methods of contraception..” When women are denied access to proper contraception they lose governance of their own bodies. This bodily autonomy is every individual’s right. Climate change is now a gendered issue by denying this right to women.
Access to contraception is determined by caste, class, social location, and many other factors. These factors are not only moral and cultural. The climate crisis has made it difficult for women living in West Africa’s coastal regions, especially Senegal, to have access to contraception. People who depend on the mangroves of the coast regions for their livelihood are being affected by the drastic changes in climate. According to these women, pregnancies are increasing due to a lack of contraception. are not desirable during a crisis.
Their health is being affected by the lack of contraceptives. It also makes it difficult for them to make changes to their bodies. Senegalese women who are unable to access the contraceptives they desire are at risk of losing their bodily autonomy. These women are reluctant about getting pregnant as it can hinder their work. It is also difficult for these women to have children in such dire socio-economic circumstances.
Proper contraceptives are required because of the strict abortion laws in West African countries. Women in Senegal, a country with restrictive and vague abortion laws, often take drastic measures to end their pregnancies. These clandestine methods can lead to complications that can become fatal. The poorest women in the country’s coastal regions are at greater risk. more likely to face severe complication Women who live in urban areas have better access to medical treatment and are more likely to have an abortion than those who live in rural areas.
These women, who in their own capacities contribute to protecting the climate from further destruction, are denied fundamental human right. Our failure to provide reproductive healthcare for the Senegalese women is destroying their efforts to save the planet. Many women, particularly those of lower income, who live in coastal areas and are ecologically vulnerable, will soon be facing similar problems.
Climate change is a problem that requires a gender lens
The super-powers of global politics offer vague, temporary solutions to climate change. But it is women from developing or under-developed nations who are the ones who suffer the most. Because it doesn’t affect them, world leaders rarely pay attention to this urgent issue. Male policy-makers in the top positions of governance and global politics are not particularly concerned by the alteration of women’s bodies as a result of unwanted pregnancies. Conversations about this issue are rare in discussions about the climate crisis because there is not a lot of women in power. This highlights the importance of using a gender lens when tackling climate change.
The lack of awareness around women’s reproductive health and the stigma around it prohibits a global conversation to be initiated on this. The climate crisis will make the most vulnerable the low-income, working women in ecologically fragile regions around the world. This is because societies continue to discriminate against them. This crisis is threatening women’s bodily autonomy and putting them at risk of losing their livelihoods.
As the Senegalese women maintain their local ecosystems, all menstruating women worldwide, regardless of their class, race or gender identity, must have the autonomy and right to use their own bodies. Because the crisis is invisible to the privileged male decision-makers, the conversation around it is not part of climate change discussions. But how long is it possible to avoid it? What can we do to improve the situation when more and more women worldwide are losing access to contraceptives?
Amazing measures are being proposed to control the climate crisis. For women who are facing the immediate effects of the crisis, however, it is necessary to take smaller, more specific measures. As the skewed laws and policies regarding women’s health keep on benefiting the patriarchal society, women keep on suffering. Until and unless the policies regarding women’s reproductive health are not free from lop-sided, gendered politics, the climate crisis will keep on affecting women which will in turn affect the whole world.