The Surprising Link Between Climate Change and Gender Equality

The Surprising Link Between Climate Change and Gender Equality

In the U.S. and other first world countries, we divert most of our focus to the gender wage gap, sexual violence, and reproductive rights when it comes to empowering women. However, in poorer developing nations, people who get involved with gender issues fight issues that may not be what’s expected when one thinks of “gender inequality.”

We see the results of climate change manifesting on a daily basis. Average temperatures around the globe have risen within the past two decades. California is going through what appears to be its harshest drought yet, while unpredictable natural disasters continue to ravage the U.S. on an annual basis. According to scientists, we should avoid any additional average temperature increase if we want to mitigate the worst of these effects on the creatures that inhabit Earth – including human beings.

Additional studies listed the consequences of letting environmental abuse go too far, finding a link between an increase in conflict and violence with drastic climate change increases. It may seem like a farfetched connection, but to boil it down, when there’s a shortage of resources or increase in natural disasters, they place additional stress on societies, causing many to worry about the problems facing their community. Worry and stress manifest in conflict, and at worst, violent conflict. While clearly, people involved in such conflict aren’t those at fault, we still see the psychological effects of taking frustration out on another person.

With women making up over half of the world’s population, we can assume that more women will be affected by climate change in the future than men. An article from Quartz states that most of these women work the land, providing resources for their families and communities. “These practices are disrupted by obstructed access to natural resources caused by climatic changes—leaving women more susceptible to food insecurity than men, who are more able to work, and eat, outside the home,” the article states.

When drought overtakes farming regions, female farmers not only lose crop yields for their families, but also a potential source of income for their household if there isn’t enough time or water to adequately nurture excess. According to the United Nations Women Watch, women are often excluded from making decisions regarding the land they work on, and how it will affect their lives.

The connection to climate change is found in increasing rates of sexual and domestic violence as women become unable to fulfill familial and community duties due to the issues they face in their working worlds. Violence rates increase following natural disasters, and disproportionately affect women. While more research has yet to be conducted on the connections between the psychological effect of societal stresses like climate change and gender inequality, what’s been presented to the public so far shows that environmental issues have a wider effect than we think they do. It’s important that we try and work towards a solution that targets environmental inequality as well as gender and economic inequality.

Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.