06 March 2020
  • Gender-based violence
  • natural resource stress
  • climate security

Climate change exacerbates women's insecurity

Considering climate change as a threat multiplier, various kinds of existing inequalities are increasingly deepened - including gender inequalities. Therefore, climate change itself poses an additional threat to women in numerous ways. 

Woman and children are, for example, 14 times as likely as men to die during a disaster. In light of climate change, this is ever relevant as the volume and intensity of extreme weather events are increasing. Besides, women’s access to post-disaster programs is regularly limited as programs often target male ‘head of households’ – with a set of implications as highlighted in a report of UN Women:

“ Many female agricultural workers also face severe inequalities in their access to land, credit and essential inputs such as fertilizers, irrigation, technology, information and markets. Thus, climate change adaptation and mitigation practices requiring the use of technical advances on heat-resistant and water-conserving crop varieties are also less likely to reach them.”

Another example of the asymmetric impact of climate change on women is highlighted in the recently released paper on gender-based violence and environment linkages by the International Union for the Conversation (IUCN). They indicate how stresses caused by natural resource scarcity - aggravated by climate change -  can amplify gender inequalities and gender-based violence. The economic situation of a family is often a key decision to marry off a daughter. When families are not able to meet their basic needs as a consequence of resource scarcity, this can result in gender-based violence. 

Moreover, migration in response to climate-induced resource scarcity can also increase women’s lack of security. Women and children can be exposed to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Although these practices can affect both males and females, the vast majority of sex trafficking victims are females. Traffickers tend to target vulnerable communities which include displaced individuals who experienced a disruption in livelihood, possibly caused by climate change.

To learn more about gender-based violence and gender-sensitive interventions, read chapter 5 of the IUCN report.

Photo credit: Simranpreet Singh Gill / Flickr