The gendered face of climate change

The gendered face of climate change

New Delhi: A new report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says that women, particularly those in developing countries, are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Women make up a large share of the agricultural work force, which is directly impacted by the effects of climate change. They also manage households and care for family members — which restricts their mobility — and often lack the social capital necessary to deal effectively with climate change.

“Given women’s significant engagement in food production in developing countries, the close connection between gender, faming and climate change deserves far more analysis than it currently receives," says the UNFPA report, which comes a few weeks before the Copenhagen talks.

The report also emphasizes that women are potentially key players in combating climate change, as voluntary declines in fertility, would reduce population growth, which would in turn contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gas-emissions in the future. Population dynamics—changes in geographic distribution, household size and age structure—must also be taken into account in formulating strategies to combat climate change.

The human and gender dimensions of the climate change problems must be considered in order to “launch a genuinely effective long-term strategy to deal with climate change," said UNFPA executive director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.

The UNFPA report follows close on the heels of the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index, which ranks India at 114 out of 134 countries, on the basis of economic participation, political participation, education and health.