August 19th, 2020 by Johnna Crider
A new study has noted that women are most likely to die in climate change–related disasters. They are 14 times more likely than men to die from these. In the study, which was conducted by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), researchers found out that there is a strong link between gender inequality, climate vulnerability, and state security. Countries with higher values in one issue area — for example, inequality — tend to have a higher score in the other issue areas as well.
If women have less access to financial independence (gender inequality), then they are also less able to find jobs and training opportunities after climate-related disasters. The study defined climate change as “the ultimate threat multiplier” and a “defining threat to peace and security in the 21st century.”
We’ve already seen the impacts of climate change and continue to see it every day. Whether it’s a new disaster that is linked or new studies coming out about how deadly air pollution is for both humans and animals, such as honeybees that pollinate the plants that provide us with food.
Some of the impacts that the study noted are:
- Increase in the insecurity of vulnerable communities across the globe.
- Exacerbating loss of livelihoods.
- Food insecurity. Competition over scarce resources.
- Human mobility.
- Political and economic instability.
As a result of these in some areas, violent conflict and political instability leave communities poorer, less resilient, and unable to cope with the effects of climate change. The study pointed out that these impacts and their associated security risks have “important gender dimensions that shape how men and women of different background experience or contribute to insecurity.”
The IUCN worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on a study that explored the links between gender inequality, state fragility, and climate vulnerability (these three are called the triple nexus topics.) What the researchers found were these three key findings:
1. Aspects of gender inequality, state fragility, and climate vulnerability affect each country included in this study to varying degrees, and scores in the three areas are positively correlated with one another. This means that countries with relatively higher values in one issue area tend to have relatively higher scores in the other issue areas.
2. The mapping analysis demonstrated that the triple nexus issues are particularly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa.
3. There are significant data gaps for gender, environmental, and fragility indicators – especially for small island states. This points to the urgent need for investment in sex-disaggregated and environmental data.”
How This Affects Women
In a nutshell, women are more likely to die in climate-related disasters — 14 times more so than men. They are also more likely to suffer from not only the loss of income but an increased workload — working harder for less pay. In 2018, the BBC noted that climate change impacts women more than men, and that one other way is through displacement. 80% of the people who have been displaced by climate change are women.
I’m in that percentage, actually. I was in Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina hit our state. Granted, I was living in my hometown of Shreveport, LA, which didn’t’ get hit badly by the storm itself, but my landlord rented his entire building to Kevin Costner for his movie crew (The Guardian) and I, along with several others, were evicted. Costner originally planned to film his movie in New Orleans, but Hurricane Katrina changed those plans. I have no regrets — I’d been wanting to move to Atlanta where I had blood relatives I’d never met. I was young and on a quest for knowledge, and I am here now because of my journeys through life. I was lucky. Not all are.
Women are also expected to adapt to that increased workload and experience health problems, violence, and sexual harassment in the aftermath of climate-related events. One example of this is that during Hurricane Katrina, 83% of single mothers were unable to return home for at least two years after the disaster. This was reported by NRDC. The same report also estimated that two-thirds of jobs lost after Katrina were lost by women, not men. The only jobs that were left were male-dominated jobs such as construction and rebuilding.
It’s even worse for women of color. In the UK, the Fawcett Society found that black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) women are suffering from greater financial and psychological consequences from the coronavirus compared to white women. 42.5% of BAME women lost support form the government compared to the 12.7% of white women. And over 50% of BAME women were “not sure where to turn for help,” compared to the 18.7% of white women who were asked that same question. Another thing that the study from the Fawcett Society found was that women of color are more likely than white women to be out of work, struggle to make ends meet, end up in debt, and have to fight harder to receive any kind of support.
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