How Does Climate Change Fall Heavy on Women – Part 1

Climate change and its adverse effects are a global problem, but it’s affecting women, in a unique way. Here’s why.

The adversity of climate change is a global problem and phenomenon. Its adverse effects affect genders differently. In that sense, women are clearly aware of climatic affliction. Adolescent girls, older women, and middle-aged ones are catching the adversity of nature. Zooming closer, some reports suggest that ‘the climate affects women more than men.’ Source BBC NEWS.

Women primarily constitute the majority of the population of the world, and in many societies, they are dependent on natural resources.

                                                                                                          Source: United Nations Organization (UNO)

According to UNO figures, 80% of women are displaced by climate change. Other studies show that women are more affected by climate change than men.

How Does Climate Change Fall Heavy on Women – Part 1

Adverse climate change falls heavily on women through a multitude of mechanisms, including health, social and economic dimensions. For example, heat waves, extreme weather conditions, waterborne diseases, etc., affect health, increase indoor and outdoor workload, food insecurity, and pervasive mental issues. In addition, women are primary caregivers, and providers of food and fuel, making them more vulnerable when floods, droughts, and other natural calamities occur.

How does climate change fan the flames of extreme weather behavior?

The growing climate change is caused by global warming. As a result, extreme weather changes are increasing and propagating across the world. The exacerbated global warming has led to longer more dramatic fire seasons and intense heat waves, allowing vegetation to dry out earlier, causing poor food supply and financial insecurity.

According to the report from Christian Aid, the floods that happened in India and China caused damages evaluated to more than $40bn.

This year 2021, the recent Gulab (Rose) and Shaheen (offspring of Gulab) severely battered Oman, Iran, and India.

Cyclone Ana hit Fiji just after cyclone 5. The same year cyclone Seroja in Indonesia displaced as many as 22000 people, most of them women and kids. Germany, China, and the UK experienced a severe downpour. Natural calamities cause more pain and human suffering in poorer countries with fewer means to react. These happen to have more women and children victims. For example, India and Pakistan receive extreme rainfall every year, afflicting many diseases and socio-economic issues.

Over 70% of those displaced by flooding in Pakistan in 2010 were women and children.

In August 2021, a wildfire burned down many forests in Turkey, Italy, and Greece. The same year Madrid faced record-breaking snow – the storm Filomena.

                                                                             Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

All this happened to everyone at every corner of the globe. However, if we analyze it from a gender-based lense, catastrophes tend to affect women more than men.

Climate Change is a Man-Made Devastation

The main driver of climate change is greenhouse gases influenced by the man-made burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. The burning of fossil fuels is the main reason for the emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. These elements’ concentration in the atmosphere has risen by 48 percent in 2020. According to NASA analysis, 2020 was the warmest year yet.

How Does Climate Change Fall Heavy on Women ‘s Health

In terms of health, the drastic changes in climate increase the morbidity and mortality of women. There is growing evidence suggesting that increasing temperatures, floods, hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and other calamities have serious implications for women’s health. In addition, meteorological changes alter vector-borne diseases, which reduce water quality.

                                                                                                                                Bruce and Susan, health experts and advocates

“There is evidence of how climate change is associated with an increase in asthma in adolescent girls, a higher risk of acquiring lung cancer and heart disease in mid-life, and heart attacks, strokes, and dementia in older women.” Bruce and Susan, health experts and advocates.

Extreme temperature poses serious health concerns for women more than men. For, the physical attributes of women’s bodies differ from that of men, due to elevated temperature, which contributes to their biological vulnerability. (Source)

Studies show that more women died than men in a 2010 heatwave in Ahmedabad, India.

The climate change that brings hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods aid waterborne diseases, such as cholera, spread by vibrio. For many diseases, water is the means of spreading at an epidemic rate. Some of the diseases include Dysentery, Polio, Typhoid, Giardia, and many others that take thousands of lives every year globally.

The water also becomes home to spreading boosted bugs such as malaria and dengue.

A report found out that the ‘global vector capacity of dengue reached its highest level in 2016’. Global vector capacity is a disease’s measuring stick to find out its capability to spread. The sea-high levels help spread waterborne diseases.

According to the UNO; Global sea-level rise accelerated since 2013 to a new high in 2021, with continued ocean warming and ocean acidification.

The change course of extreme changes and loss, injury, and bereavement caused by the weather also aggravate mental illness, though the link is complex. For example, 70 percent of studies found that women are more likely to suffer mental illness driven by climate change and its havoc.

                                                                                                  Climate and Women Mental Health

Following extreme weather changes may affect women’s mental wellness more than men’s in many ways, such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, and depression. Studies showed that women faced a more significant risk of PTSD post-cyclone in the USA, UK, Myanmar, and China.

Climate change affects reproductive and maternal health in uniquely many ways. It does not only put the mother’s life at risk; it may also restrict the fetus’ growth and threaten the fetus’ mental health. Besides the health challenges, climate change also limits access to health professionals and practitioners threatening the lives of the mother and her fetus.

To be continued.
Read Part 2 and 3 of this series.

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