Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Climate change ‘will hit women harder’

Jocelyn Newmarch in Business Day (South Africa): Rural women are more vulnerable to climate change than men, and SA needs to take this gender effect into account in its national planning, climate change activists warn. SA is likely to feel the consequences of climate change particularly in terms of water availability and from a compounding of the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, nongovernmental organisations say.

Women are more vulnerable to climate change because they are more likely to be poor and have fewer coping mechanisms than men, and have additional responsibilities. The division of household roles and responsibilities could also mean women are disproportionately affected.

Themba Linden, political adviser for Greenpeace in SA, said recently that the effects of climate change compounded already existing problems such as food security, water scarcity and HIV/AIDS. He said sub-Saharan women spent 40-billion hours a year collecting water — equal to France’s entire annual labour, according to a United Nations Development Programme report.

This means that increased water scarcity would particularly affect women, girls and to some extent boys, because they would have to travel further to collect water, or would have to use a less safe water source closer to home, Linden said. This in turn meant that water- borne disease could spread more easily — which is a particular risk factor for people living with HIV/AIDS, for whom diarrhoea can prove fatal.

…Climate change was likely to increase poverty levels, heightening men’s and women’s already existing vulnerabilities, the think- tank’s report said. “Now’s the time to make sure that the adaptation response is targeting the most vulnerable,” Cole said…..

Women working a field in South Africa, shot by John, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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