UN Report Says Women Most Vulnerable to Climate Change

The United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) released a report Wednesday that indicates women, especially poor women living in developing countries, are more susceptible to the negative effects of climate change. The report also identified that increased contraceptive access, increased participation of women in policymaking, and increased civil rights could help alleviate the affects of climate change, according to the Voice of America.

The report, Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate (see PDF) found that women’s traditional role as homemaker along with their greater participation in the agricultural work force directly relates to increased vulnerability https://feminist.org/majorityspeaks/climate change. The report states that caring for family members “often limits [women’s] mobility and increases their vulnerability to sudden weather-related natural disasters. Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes. Girls drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks. This cycle of deprivation, poverty and inequality undermines the social capital needed to deal effectively with climate change.”

Bunmi Makinwa, Africa director of the UNFPA, said “Women have the potential that we are not using to contribute, to mitigate the effects of climate change. And therefore women should be part of the discussion, should be involved in the discussion and be involved in the decision making on climate change issues,” according to the Voice of America.

The release of this report is in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, expected to take place next month. World leaders intend to build on the 1997 Kyoto protocol, in which 37 industrial nations agreed to reduce heat-raising gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. However, the United Press International reported that the US Congress failure to pass effective Climate Change legislation will likely damage negotiation efforts.


Feminist Daily Newswire 11/4/09; United Press International 11/19/09; Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate; Voice of America 11/18/09.

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