Examples of climate change’s strange consequences abound. Warmer temperatures may bring about more instances of kidney stones and cause longer allergy seasons. Now, research shows that environmental changes brought on by global warming may affect women more negatively than men.
A story recently published by an Australian news source looked at research conducted by the United Nations, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization and the University of London. The various research shows that natural disasters, drought, famine and poverty all have a profound effect on women. Because these situations are also all influenced by climate change, a warmer world may exacerbate global gender inequalities.
For example, Amy North, a researcher at the University of London’s Institute of Education, notes that in sub-Saharan Africa, women are responsible for collecting water and firewood. Decreased rainfall brought on by climate change will undoubtedly make these resources more scarce. Women will need to spend more and more time searching for these items, meaning they’ll have less time to engage in money-making activities or attend school. In Kenya, poverty brought on by drought has been linked to a decrease in school attendance, and parents are more likely to withdraw girls from school than boys.
In Uganda, “famine marriages” are all too common. Less rainfall brings agricultural losses, which means increased poverty in rural areas that depend on farming. To combat this poverty, many families are marrying off their daughters at younger and younger ages in order to secure a dowry or bride price. As climate change continues to spur drought and agricultural losses, the situation may only get worse for women.
These are just a few of the examples of how environmental changes brought on by climate change may affect women across the globe. For more information, tune in to the upcoming E4 Conference in Dakar, Senegal in May.
Lead photograph via Oxfam America