Women and Climate Change
Climate change affects entire populations, but it affects men and women differently. Climate change is turning into a serious problem, especially for older women.
Older women are more vulnerable due to physical and biological differences that can disadvantage their initial response to natural hazards. For example, women are more likely to die in a crisis than men due to social roles and norms that leave them with less rights. In instances of displacement, older women may need a male escort in order to travel long distances. Of the 140,000 people killed by the cyclones in Bangladesh in 1991, 90% of them were women.
Post-disaster, distribution of aid and resources are often unevenly allocated for a number of different reasons leaving older women without assistance. Their limited access to resources and decision-making processes increases their vulnerability to climate change.
When floods or droughts affect food availability, women are often the first to suffer since most small-scale farmers are women. According to the World Conservation Union, women are the main producers of the world's staple crops in most developing worlds.
Climate change also brings illness and disease such as the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Older women, on average, have less access to health care than men. They are often the main caregivers for sick children and are more likely to contract the disease.
Making a difference
HelpAge is pushing for:
- Recognition and understanding of older women's unique vulnerabilities to disasters and longer term environmental and climate change.
- A better understanding of the impact climate change and economic migration is having on food security and older farmers.
- Helping older women receive proper legal documentation to help them receive aid during natural disasters.
- Breaking down gender discrimination and improving women's rights and freedoms