Amid reports this week that this has been the world’s warmest winter since the government first began keeping track more than a hundred years ago, more and more women are voicing their concerns about the disproportionate impact that a hotter planet has on them and their families.
The Gender and Climate Change website argues: "Climate change is not a neutral process; first of all, women are in general more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, not least because they represent the majority of the world’s poor and because they are more than proportionally dependent on natural resources that are threatened. The technological changes and instruments that are being proposed to mitigate carbon emissions, which are implicitly presented as gender-neutral, are in fact quite gender biased and may negatively affect women or bypass them."
The Association for Women’s Rights in Development asks, "Is climate change a gender issue?" and reports on the hardships Inuit women, who live in Canada’s far north, are suffering from the devastating impact climate change is having on their climate and community.
Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of IUCN-The World Conservation Union, has also joined the chorus of those who are concerned that climate change is threatening women’s lives. When swift environmental changes and natural disasters come along, she pointed out during the celebration of International Women’s Day, it is the women – who are poor and landless yet responsible for food production and the health and safety of their families and communities – who are the most vulnerable. An IUCN report notes that the physical, social, cultural and economic impacts of global warming jeopardize women far more than men.
An international Climate for Change project is trying to encourage more women to participate in discussions about climate protection.
That’s a step in the right direction. But those of us with marketplace clout can do more. Given that we buy so many products that fuel global warming – from energy-burning cars and light bulbs to home appliances and even food – one immediate action we can take is to shift our spending to the most fuel-efficient products and services available.
There are lots of reasons to try to cool the globe. Helping out our sisters is one of the important ones.