Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Global warming and gender

Global warming will be harder on poor countries than on rich ones. It also will be harder on the women in those poor countries than on the men. The relief agency Oxfam lays it out in a new report, "Adapting to climate change: "What's needed in poor countries, and who should pay."

Women are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate variability and coming climate change. Why? Because deep inequalities between women and men – in the community, in the economy, and before the law – mean that women typically shoulder more responsibilities, but have fewer rights realised. First, women tend to depend more on the natural environment for their livelihoods, for example relying on rain to water their crops, or making use of forest plants for medicines, materials, and food. Second, women have often had less education, and are subject to social customs which may restrict their mobility and role in the economy, so it is more difficult for them to find new, more dependable ways of earning an income. Third, women are typically responsible for unpaid household chores such as fetching water and fuel, and caring for ill and dependent family members: climate variability and change will make all of these tasks more demanding. Fourth, women’s claim to their agricultural land is often insecure, and their role as carers means they have little time to be involved in community decision-making. Without their perspectives and participation, there is a real risk that adaptation plans could actually make women more vulnerable to climate impacts, and less empowered in their communities.

Definitely not the Republican base. No wonder the Bush administration is so cavalier about it all.

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