The topic was discussed during COP26′s Gender Day on Tuesday when the summit’s president, Alok Sharma, said: “We know that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by climate change.
“And we cannot allow equality to be a casualty of climate.”
But just why is climate change gendered – and what can be done about it?
Why is global warming so dangerous for girls and women around the globe?
Women in developing countries are often responsible for collecting and preparing food, water, and cooking. They are also the primary caregivers.
These tasks are made more difficult by global warming, which causes extreme weather and makes resources scarce.
IUCN – the International Union for Conservation of Nature – claims 70% of the world’s poorestWomen are people.
This became clear when, after the devastation of 2005′s Hurricane Katrina, African-American women were among the worst affected by flooding in Louisiana.
UN figures also show that 80% of those affected by climate change are women.
Girls are more likely than boys to miss school due to economic disasters. This leads to an increase in domestic violence, child marriages, and increased likelihood of girls being unable to go to school.
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim of the Association of Indigenous Women and People of Chad told the BBC: “In the dry season, men go to the towns…leaving women to look after the community.
″[women] become more vulnerable…it’s very hard work.”
Why are women in global south expected to have the most difficulty?
Helen Pankhurst of CARE International told The Metro women from the global south “are carrying the heaviest burden of climate change”.
People living in poverty in the global south are more susceptible to the climate crisis than those who produce the least. CO2 emissions. According to the Christian Aid Climate and Food Vulnerability Index, countries such as Burundi and Congo, Mali and Chad, Malawi, and Rawnda produce less than 1 ton of CO2 per capita in a given year.
Because their populations are more vulnerable to climate change and rely on small-scale farming, poorer countries will be the most affected. Their food supply could be destroyed by a drought or flood.
When it comes to climate change, women in the global South have been dealt the most difficult blow.
Is this reflected in the world’s decision-making processes on global warming?
The 2015 Paris Agreement included specific provisions for women, and acknowledged that women are disproportionately affected. COP26 made further promises to reduce gender inequalities.
But UN Women claims 67% of decision-making roles about climate change around the world are still occupied by men – most of whom are white.
Pankhurst also pointed out that women from the global south “are marginalised from negotiations” at COP26 this year, “especially as the pandemic has limited participation of so many” due to vaccine inequity.
IUCN is only one of many organizations which have called for more women to participate in the decision-making process and claims that this would help speed up efforts to address climate change.
The organisation said: “Women have the knowledge and understanding of what is needed to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to come up with practical solutions.”
“But they are still a largely untapped resource,” it concluded.
Did COP26′s Gender Day change anything?
The UK announced it would put £165 million towards supporting gender equality, and put women and girls at the centre of the solutions to the crisis.
Some £45 million of this is going to local communities and women’s groups in Asia and the Pacific, two areas set to be hit hard by the climate crisis, with the remaining £120 million going to “build resilience” and support “women’s leadership” in Bangladesh.
But Francesca Rhodes, senior advocacy and policy adviser at CARE International UK, said while this move was welcomed, “there is still a long way to go to ensure all climate finance and policies support gender equality”.
She also stated that climate finance should be available to women and girls most affected from extreme weather, droughts, floods, and flooding.
The UK wasn’t alone in making a gender-specific promise.
Bolivia, Canada and the USA all promise to strengthen women’s leadership in one way or another. Some countries also promise to invest more in gender equality solutions.
Critics pointed out that the pledges didn’t mention any sexual and reproductive health rights.
This is a crucial concern in a climate where gender-based violence rises and resources are scarce.
Dr Health McMullen from Queen Mary University of London’s Institute of Population Health Sciences pointed out at COP26 that “people need control over their bodies to respond and adapt to climate change”.