The climate crisis is not gender neutral


The climate crisis is one of the most pressing challenges of this time. However, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), women and children are 14 times more likely than men to die in a disaster and those especially in impoverished situations due to disproportionately high health risks due to existing gender roles, responsibilities, and cultural norms.

  • The recent ruling by the Supreme Court of India, affirming the right to be free from the adverse effects of climate change, underscores the urgency of addressing this issue within the framework of fundamental rights.

GS-01 GS-02 (Climate change, Gender)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Importance of Climate Action
  • Implications of Climate Change on women and Children
  • Gender Dynamics
  • Why Climate Action Needs Women

Importance of Climate Action:

  • Women, especially in rural areas, are significantly dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, making them particularly vulnerable to climate-induced crop failures and food insecurity.
  • The adverse impact of droughts on women’s nutritional status, coupled with increased domestic work burdens and intimate partner violence highlights the relation between climate change and gender dynamics.

Implications of Climate Change on women and Children:

  • Extreme weather events, including floods, droughts, and cyclones, are becoming more frequent due to climate change, placing women and children at heightened risk.
    • Studies indicate a direct correlation between natural disasters and gender-based violence, highlighting the urgent need for gender-responsive disaster management strategies.
  • Moreover, changes in water cycle patterns resulting from climate change exacerbate challenges related to access to safe drinking water, further burdening women and girls with increased drudgery and reduced time for productive activities and healthcare.
  • The escalating temperatures associated with climate change pose significant health risks, particularly for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, young children, and the elderly.
  • Prolonged heat exposure increases the likelihood of adverse pregnancy outcomes and exacerbates respiratory and cardiovascular diseases among women.
  • Furthermore, air pollution, a byproduct of climate change, poses additional health hazards, including impaired physical and cognitive development in unborn children and heightened risks of lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases in women.

Gender Dynamics:

  • While climate change affects everyone, it is not gender-neutral, with women facing unique vulnerabilities due to intersecting factors such as socio-economic status, caste, and geography.
  • Recognizing the distinct gender dimensions of climate change is imperative for developing effective mitigation and adaptation strategies that address the specific needs of women and girls.

Why Climate Action Needs Women:

  • Empowering women not only achieves gender equality but also advances climate resilience and sustainable development, as they play a pivotal role in climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. Studies show that providing women with equal access to resources can significantly enhance agricultural productivity and environmental conservation efforts.
  • Particularly tribal and rural women have been instrumental in driving local environmental initiatives, underscoring the importance of gender-inclusive approaches in climate action.

Way Forward:

  • Addressing the gender dimensions of climate change needs various approaches including policy interventions, community engagement, and capacity building at the grassroots level.
  • Immediate actions like implementing heatwave preparedness measures to protect vulnerable populations, enhancing water management through traditional practices like rainwater harvesting, and fostering gender-responsive urban planning to mitigate the impact of climate change on women’s health and well-being should also be taken care.