Women and Climate Change

By Emmie Heiserman

International Women's Initiative Staff Writer

(Photo Source)  

Climate change affects communities worldwide. Widespread droughts and abnormal flooding is ruining the crops of farmers in some of the poorest areas of the world, consequently affecting more women than men. Women make up the majority of the worlds poor and therefore are more dependent on natural resources as sources for survival making impacts of climate change are more devastating to women especially in poorer countries where women make up a larger portion of the agricultural force.  

According to the UN, Women make up “About two-thirds of the female labor force in developing countries, and more than 90 percent in many African countries, are engaged in agricultural work.” When women depend on agriculture, as a result of climate change, their income becomes unpredictable as well as their sources for food. 

Women have less access to other jobs that provide incomes. Often women are more likely to be the household manager, which makes them more susceptible to being affected by flooding or droughts by decreasing their access to food and limiting their mobility in cases of natural disasters caused by climate change. This is especially true in areas where education is easily accessible to girls.  

Another way that women are impacted by climate change is the expectations for women to stay at home and take care of the home. When resources are limited, girls are often forced to drop out of school and begin helping with housework in order to support their family.  This further perpetuates the cycle of low access to jobs and low education while also not being able to escape poverty. This cycle is more likely to be created in poor areas where frequent droughts or flooding occur, placing more stress on families and forcing women to use more time and energy to provide food and water for their family. 

Climate change goes beyond crops. Water is another huge problem. In many developing countries of the world, women must walk miles a day to get water for their families that is often not sanitary or clean. In addition, it is common that the amount of water they are able to carry home is not enough to support their family. 

As a consequence of global warming, areas that used to water are strained by warmer climates and may be more polluted or force women to walk even further to fetch water. Lack of water also creates an increased likelihood for illness and disease. 

International Women’s Initiative urges government officials to take a stance on global worming. It is far too often that leaders of our world only focus on the negative effects that global warming has on the larger natural world when they should be focusing on the individual lives and communities that are being impacted. 

This issue goes beyond ruining the natural world and contributes to the inequality of women’s lives around the globe by perpetuating unstable living condition and work industries.