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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pakistan Floods: Case of Climate injustice and Gender Inequality

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Pakistan Floods 2022: An Overview

Since June of 2022, Pakistan has been wrecking damage from the grueling floods caused by climate change. With the shifting weather patterns and increasing floods in Pakistan, the scope and magnitude of climate change’s effects are unprecedented. The heavy floods caused widespread fatalities, livestock deaths, and damage to and destruction of both public and private equipment. The climate catastrophe was the result of flooding from rivers, streams, and cities, as well as flash flooding in Pakistan. Landslides and floods brought on by rainwater have also harmed forests and farmland, having an effect on regional ecosystems. With the increased floods, Pakistan is on the front line of a global climate emergency. Pakistan’s government had announced 84 districts throughout the country as “calamity affected,” mostly in Balochistan (32 districts), Sindh (23 districts), and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (17 districts).

More than 33 million people have been affected by the catastrophic floods and at least 7.9 million have been displaced. About 598,000 affectees are now staying in emergency shelters. A total of 175,600 women, 194,000 girls, and 206,000 boys are among the estimated 800,000 refugees, currently living in over 40 calamity-declared regions. The cities including Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Quetta, Balochistan, are housing over half of these refugees.

This year’s extreme flood conditions, particularly in Pakistan, are actually a “wake-up call” about issues such as extreme weather, economic upheaval, and other risks posed by climate change.

Women in floods: Affected yet Ignored

The severe floods in Pakistan have affected more than 8 million women of reproductive age. A lot of them have resorted to drastic ways to control their periods. One woman in the severely affected province of Balochistan recalled utilizing tree leaves when she dialed for help from volunteers. Relief agencies are sending supplies to the impacted areas, but menstruation item supplies are frequently forgotten. Part of the reason for such is Pakistan’s taboo towards discussing menstruation. Mahoor and Anum Khalid decided to take action and created “Mahwari Justice,” a campaign to promote menstrual hygiene for flood victims.

Pakistan had one of the worst rates of maternal mortality in Asia even before the climate-induced floods. This rate is only expected to rise as women continue to lack access to healthcare and the prevalence of anemia. The leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality in the country rises in tandem with the prevalence of hunger. Dr. Kadirov insists “Childbirth and pregnancy cannot wait till crises or natural calamities have passed. A lady and her unborn child are most at risk and in need of care at this time, “he said. With nearly 130,000 expectant mothers requiring immediate medical attention.

In the midst of the crisis, more than 42,000 women were expected to give birth in the upcoming three months. In the Balochistan and Sindh provinces, more than 1,400 medical institutions, including the maternity facility, suffered damage or destruction. Specialist in maternity, neonatal, and infant health.UNFPA has established a mobile health service to assist individuals in refugee camps and to refer complex patients to reachable hospitals on time.

In order to maintain essential health services, UNFPA is also distributing hospital shelters and life-saving supplies. In the meantime, dissemination of more than 8,000 dignity kits, 7,000 kits with newborn-supply items, and more than 6,400 clean delivery kits—has started in the provinces of Sindh, Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab.

Gender-based violence against women and girls also became more prevalent. Children, especially girls, who are left behind while their parents search for work are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment. The abuse and exploitation often take place in settings such as distribution centers and other displaced environments.

Aid or Reparation, what will help Pakistan in floods?

Over 7,200 glaciers may be found in Pakistan, next to the Arctic. These enormous freshwater reserves are melting at an astonishing speed, converting them into dangerous floodwater. Importantly, the flood is predicted to do an additional $10 billion in harm to an already fragile economy. Pakistan suffers the worst effects of the climate catastrophe while contributing less than 1% of the world’s carbon emissions. As measured by the Global Climate Risk Index, the country has consistently ranked among the top 10 most vulnerable nations.”This big flood is caused by climate change – the reasons are worldwide,” says Julien Harneis, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan.

Pakistanis are the most recent casualties of floods due to global climate catastrophes. Even though they have made essentially little contribution to it. In fact, it has instead been sparked by the excessive emissions of industrial polluters and wealthy nations. The demands for climate settlements from Pakistan and Global South are a result of this basic injustice caused by floods.

If the West wants to help Pakistan through the climate crisis, it must develop policies that address the extent of harm the Global North has caused the South since the colonization, exploitation, and Industrial Revolution. This should start with full debt cancellation and more climate money to help communities prepare for the effects of climate change. Therefore, emergency assistance must thus be seen as a type of long overdue climate repair. Even so, it must form the cornerstone of any agreements made at the next COP27 Conference.

Conclusion:

Gender is not “neutral” in the climate catastrophe. Changing climate as a threat multiplier has a disproportionately negative impact on women and girls. This has amplified existing gender disparities and posed special risks to their livelihoods, health, and safety. According to Matcha Phorn-In, human rights campaigner, “If you are invisible in regular life, your needs will not be thought of, let alone addressed, in a crisis scenario”. Phorn-in says that if humanitarian programs ignore gender variety, they “tend to be heteronormative and might promote the patriarchal structure of society.” “We are promoting and striving toward equality of all types in tackling systemic reform.”

Although Mahwari justice and UNFPA could be seen as a hopeful approach it should be kept in mind that the severity of the situation does not seldom them as enough for damage control. The genders of society should have equality in access and availability to resources so that they can have appropriate aid. Pakistan, amidst climate-induced disasters, such as floods, needs to make sure such an inclusive society comes into existence.

As the world transforms into a global village, the issue of climate crisis and change is neither isolated nor independent. In fact, it is brought about by the intersection, communication, and interlinks between countries. It is important to remember that natural disasters like floods are not sudden; they have complex causes whose roots can be traced back to varying global and national factors.

Climate justice is as important as gender equality when discussing the climate crisis. The states responsible for the crisis should be made accountable. Moreover, the experiencing countries should not be exploited in the name of “aid”. Although powerful showcase themselves as saviors, they continue to misuse the resources and machinery specifically for their own benefit and thus, destroy the notion of sustainability.

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