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Climate Change And Its Impact On Women And Little Girls

Environmentalist and writer Vandana Shiva said in an interview that the more the lands get drier and the water recedes from our lakes and rivers, the more girls will have to walk farther to fetch water.

Environmentalist and writer Vandana Shiva said in an interview that the more the lands get drier and the water recedes from our lakes and rivers, the more girls will have to walk farther to fetch water.

No matter how loud our beacon for equality blows, the stark reality of it all is that the burden of household chores falls disproportionately on women and girls than on men and boys.

This discriminatory gap is going to get widen with severe climate change impacts.

More girls will drop out of schools to help their mothers, there will be a greater fall in the incomes of families which further means less share of food and less nutrition on a female’s plate, more abuse of her and less inclusivity in major decisions.

More women are involved in unorganized labour in almost all sectors of the economy.

From agriculture to construction – women labour is not just unaccounted and not only are they paid less, but they also have to manage everything from family and kids to countering vulnerabilities.

This makes them significantly dependent on the menfolk.

This blow on self-dependence and independence will only get harder with climate change.

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More regions will see droughts, fires, landslides, heat waves, cyclones, floods and diseases, more loss of life, income, property, livelihoods.

Any kind of such uncertainty pushes the already marginalized further on the margins.

Neglect in the arena of health, sanitation, safety and security, more climate change-induced migration (sometimes even dangerous migration), fewer opportunities for education, skill learning and employment, and finally, financial stress, early marriage for girls, more suppressed voices can be served on the platter in the future.

We can already see these events in many parts of the world.

Sadly, despite the evidence, we do not have enough data on this. Because not enough research was done on this.

We know that globally, women are responsible for almost 70% of water-related chores.

In India alone, over 60% of the agricultural workforce is formed by women, 80% of rural female individuals are responsible for collecting water every single day.

Just a single event like Covid has shown to us how more women became more unemployed, burdened with caretaking and more vulnerable to abuse in a span of 20 months.

We can imagine what uncertainties can do to women and their situation in long term.

What can women do? Women can act as agents of change. Sustainable and inclusive growth is a slow model but is a more coherent and largely adaptive model whereby women are equal participants with men at all steps in an alternative developmental change that includes water management, resource preservation, sustainable infrastructure, community planning and grass root level dialogue.

The model strengthens at the lowest level instead of the usual top-down approach where decisions are forced.

When more women come together to form small avenues of job growth, employment, skill learning and self-dependency with sustainable practices like non-conventional energy use coupled with indigenous ways of preserving crops, forests and water, land use planning and financial resources for small businesses, there is also less migration and more independence.

Ralegaon Siddhi model of Maharashtra showed us how women had become the frontline agents not just in turning barren land into productive land, but also in transforming the entire society.

Empower women and they can empower the entire community. Why are women not present in the climate change dialogue then? Historically, all major decisions have been taken by men only. This includes policy planning and policy-making too.

Globally, a drive towards exploiting more and more resources for the sake of ‘development’ began since industrialization, but the intention to occupy more land and use up the resources is a colonial mindset. This has only intensified over the years. 

The inability to understand that the planet and its resources is a shared heritage and is a valid part of the culture and the very existence of human beings is antithetical to the development model of the West.

Women, who have since forever been seen as ‘nurturers’, have also been kept out of the dialogues, because competition, occupation, annihilation, and victory have been seen as ‘virtues of men’.

The notion has been very simple – men command, women follow.

This has led to the demolition of homes, culture, indigenous and tribal communities, traditions and ways of life.

It is high time that women raise their voices for other women who cannot stand up for themselves before it’s too late, and this model of resource exploitation be dismissed for entire humanity will have to pay a price for this. It takes many years to grow a forest and only a few days to cut down one.

Time has come that the world is reminded of the fact that the commands had been wrong and women are not here just to follow but to be equal participants at all tables of the conference.

The Climate crisis is real. And so is gender equality and vulnerability. ‘Our future is in our hands, but let us make positive efforts towards saving the planet so that our future certainly does remain in our hands. 

Image source: An image from Pexels

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About the Author

Chaitanya Srishti

A Feminist interested in Politics, Economy, Law, National Security, International Relations, Environment. read more...

14 Posts | 20,878 Views

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