Gender equality is a cornerstone and key to climate justice. To delineate the interconnection between gender quality and climate justice, it is mandatory to elaborate both the terms. Gender equality implies that all genders are absolutely free to enjoy their human rights as to pursue whatever career, lifestyle, choice they want without any discrimination.
Table of Contents
Article 1 of United Nations’ Charter accentuates respect for human rights and for fundamental freedom without any distinction to any race, sex, language, color or religion. Moreover, among 17 goals of sustainable development goals agenda (SDGs), goal 5 focuses on gender equality.
The second term, climate justice, deciphers the concept that addresses the just and fair division and sharing of the benefits and burdens incurred by climate change. It also incorporates the responsibilities to deal with the catastrophes caused by climate change. Article 1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks about the climate change. Even, goal 13 of SDGs is all about climate action.
The connotation between gender equality and climate change implies that all the genders are equally accountable to pros, cons and mitigation of climate crisis. In this regard, let’s have a thorough analysis of whether men and women have been equally burdened, benefited and responsible for climate change.
Women suffer more than men in climate crisis
The gendered impacts of climate crisis seem to have a tilt towards women. Women are more affected by climate change than men are, as the former’s livelihood, health and security are severely affected. Around the world, women mostly depend on natural resources. Especially in low and lower-middle income countries (LMICs), women’s source of employment is the agricultural sector.
Due to droughts and irregular rainfalls, this very sector is affected which ultimately makes it hard for women to earn livelihood. A renowned research conducted in LMICs debunks that during weather-related crises, girls’ schooling is more prone to climate crisis than that of boys. During the extreme weather conditions more of the girls leave their schooling than boys do due to the girls’ role in agriculture-based livelihoods.
Moreover, the resource-scarcity caused by environmental shocks halts girls’ education and results in early child marriages. Across the globe, around 12 million girls, each year, are compelled for marriages before the age of 18.
Story of Fatima in a climate crisis
Furthermore, climate crisis escalates all forms of gender based violence (GBV). The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) defines GBV as violence against women. A 35-year-old Somali girl named Fatima while talking to Oxfam Charity Forum narrates her story depicting how climate crisis affected her life.
Sool, the region of Somaliland, was drought-hit. Owing to the dearth of water and unemployment there, Fatima, with her family, decided to move from Sool. Her husband later started beating her. He continuously threatened her to hang her by rope. Fatima then relocated herself with her children to the camps of displaced people in the capital city of Somaliland. Her story witnesses how GBV stems from climate crisis.
Climate justice debate
Several researches indicate that extreme heat augments incidences of stillbirth. Increasing climate change triggers the spread of vector-borne diseases, for instance, malaria and dengue fever. These are linked to worse maternal and neonatal outcomes. Ahead of it, the patriarchal structure of the society, across the globe, envenoms the concept of climate justice.
Throughout the world, mostly the owners of big industries and business tycoons are male and of capitalist mindset. The carbon emissions from these industries worsen the air quality and increase pollution. These are the women who bear of the brunt of these emissions because they remain deprived of real emancipation.
In this regard, Will Durant in his book, Pleasure of Philosophy, states the exploitation of women and writes, “Now they are either shut up in the homes or shut up in the factories.” Women remain marginalized. They remain between the devil and the deep sea of male dominated and capitalist society.
The colonial attitude still continues as Global South exports the raw material to Global North, and the latter exports the finished goods to the whole world. Thus, Global North contributes to the large amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Resultantly, the most vulnerable population, Global South, is put at frontline of climate crisis.
The women of Global South bears the major pitfalls of these climate crisis. In Pakistan, recent floods in August 2022, affected every seventh Pakistani. Among them, these were women mostly.
As far as the efforts to combat climate change are concerned, females, around the globe, have played pivotal role surpassing the endeavors made by men. From Nakate to Artemisa Xakriabá to Ridhima Pandey to Greta Thunberg, all these young girls have lead by the practical examples as how to counter the menace of climate change. Once, Chairman Mao said, “Women hold up half the sky.” It implies that women excel in every cause, field and choice they step into.
Time for Gender mainstreaming
Today, men should put practical efforts as much as women do in countering climate crisis. Already existing concept of “gender mainstreaming” must be pragmatized. In this patriarchal society, women’s role must be incorporated in policy making as to value their say. The policies to deal with climate change should be formulated while taking women on board. Women’s grievances and experiences should be highlighted regarding climate change.
To conclude, gender equality remains central to climate justice. It is the need of hour to shun the patriarchal nefarious means. Men must play pivotal practical role in combating climate crisis. They must recognize women’s role, and embody women in articulating the global and state policies to mitigate climate crisis.
In this regard, Maya Angelou says, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Thus, let the agony of climate crisis be dealt timely and actively before it is too late.