Climate Change hitting Women disproportionately

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Climate change is happening now and it is one of the greatest threats to our environment, affecting social and economic levels in our lives.  Hopefully, in December, Copenhagen will face new decisions taken by countries around the globe on International climate change. There is no way out, truth is that all countries will have to bear the burdens brought by climate change, especially developing countries. Africa being one of these countries will be exposed to water stress, food insecurity and extreme weather events.

Poverty in these regions aggravates the situation and women are the most vulnerable.  Women in these countries are agricultural workers and are responsible for the household and food production. They have to carry heavy burdens over long distances and this not only renders them dependent on natural resources but creates physical strain.

The World Health Organization estimates that with carbon dioxide emissions, the contamination period for diseases spread by insects will be therefore longer. While other illnesses such as diarrhea, cholera and other illnesses will escalate.  Women are more susceptible as they are more exposed to illness, such as in the case of pregnant and nursing mothers with low immunity.  To add with this, Anemia caused by malarial infections will lead to maternity mortality.

Unfortunately, discrimination between sexes still prevails in certain regions such as in Asia and in Africa where women and girls have to remain at home and cannot go out unless accompanied by men. Another factor is the level of poverty in these countries which is depriving girls from proper education. These girls remain at home increasing burdens over their families.

In cases of floods or disaster, men are the first to be warned whilst women have to wait to be rescued. Most of the time, this help comes too late.  After the recent Tsunamis,   studies have been undertaken which indicate that more women and children died as a consequence, as more women stayed behind in order to rescue their children.

All states have obligations in respecting gender mainstreaming in all policy areas and this should include climate change and women s’ involvement in this area. Nonetheless, not all states are respecting these obligations and discrimination in these states still overrules.  Discrimination has to be put to an end whilst more women need to participate in decision making.  Still, the level of participation by women in decisions and in discussions affecting climate change and green house gas emissions is low.

So, women need to be more on board!  World leaders should regard the fact that women are severely affected by climate change due to poverty and discrimination. For this purpose more money should be directed to poor countries targeting women as they will be predominantly afflicted by climate change.  Let us hope that this will be one of the many decisions taken in Copenhagen.

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