Women in the world grow a large part of the food for their families. At the same time, they are more exposed to climate change than men.


Climate change is a gender equality issue!

Women are 14 times more likely than men to die from natural disasters caused by climate change. At the same time, it is often women who to a large extent cultivate food and give birth to the world. It is high time that the women and non-binaries affected by climate change are heard and included, writes Lisa Tover, who is currently practicing among small farmers in Colombia.

Climate change does not affect everyone equally. The most vulnerable are women.

The power structures that we humans maintain make women run 14 times higher risk than men to die from natural disasters caused by climate change. Yes you read that right: 14 times! This means that for every man who dies from climate change, 14 women die.

Framtidsjorden is a network of environmental organizations in Latin America, South Asia and Sweden. In our work with rural development, we see that many women struggle hard to satiate their families. Climate change is expected to make food and water shortages increasingly common. When the supply decreases, women must put more time and energy into the task.

Over half of all the world's food produced by small-scale family farmers. Most of these farmers are women. Despite the fact that women grow the food that to a large extent feeds the world, they have to make do with the smallest plots of land and the worst soil. Soils that cease to be useful in the event of, for example, prolonged drought. Women also have less financial assets than men, which makes it more difficult to invest and increase their resilience and adaptability to climate change. Women have less access to mobile phones, bank accounts and bank loans than men, which means that they have less access to information such as weather forecasts and less opportunity to act on the information they receive.

At the same time, studies from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show that when women are given the same funds to invest in their agriculture as men, increases production by 20-30 percent. The FAO has calculated that such an increase would reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million people.

In addition, women usually plant a greater variety of crops, which generates greater security. Through the work carried out in Framtidsjorden's network, we know that female food producers have extensive knowledge of local conditions, organic farming and resistant crops with high nutritional value. Women's knowledge of food production is therefore necessary for climate adaptation. It is time that we all recognize and value their knowledge - their efforts - as they deserve. Not least for the climate and for a sustainable future.

Gender equality is a prerequisite for sustainable climate adaptation. Government institutions, companies and organizations worldwide must:

  • See discrimination!

It is not "just" about making the world fairer, (although it is important enough in itself) it is also about us never being able to solve the climate crisis if half the population's knowledge, capacity and manpower remain ignored. It is necessary to realize and act according to the fact that women are in an unfavorable position when climate change strikes.

But to stay there would be to reduce the problem to a gross generalization and reduction of women to a unified, homogeneous group. The difference between the lives of different women is of course as great as the difference between the lives of different men. Oppression is about ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, where you live, what income you have (if anyone) and more and more. Often it depends on the other. When New Orleans was hit by storm Katrina, it was the poorest who were hardest hit, and the poorest were - not by chance but because of far-reaching structural discrimination - black women.

  • Greater representation in decision-making!

Women and non-binaries must have greater influence and power to control their own lives.

More perspectives, knowledge and experience must be taken into account in order for us to be able to make the right decision on the climate issue. Women and non-binaries must be heard, listened to, and allowed to take part in decision-making. We need to start listening to truth-tellers, no matter what they look like. We can't just listen to white men (that's how we ended up here). The whole society benefits from women gaining more power and influence on an individual, structural and institutional level. As an example, female members of parliament tend to prioritize social and development issues, and countries with a higher proportion of women in parliament are more likely to ratify international environmental treaties.

  • Enable participation!

We know that people are born with different possibilities. We must actively work to reduce these differences and create better representation. Women and non-binaries must be given space to truly participate in decision-making throughout the process, and not just be present or have administrative support functions. Activities that lead to reflection, capacity development and decisions must be planned in a way that enables participation. For example, they need to be kept in a place and time that makes it easier for women to participate, taking into account women's general responsibilities and the ability to move around in public spaces (due to, for example, the risk of sexual harassment in public transport in the evenings).

It is important to invite in a way that makes different categories of people feel welcome to participate. In addition, of course, the meeting itself needs to be conducted in a way that makes visible and shows respect for the participants' different experiences. In other words - we must create safe spaces for the exchange of experience.

It is essential for sustainable climate adaptation that the women and non-binaries affected are heard and included. I'm Greta Thunberg, together with Luisa Neubauer and Angela Valenzuela, said: “After all, the climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis for human rights, for justice, and for political will. It is colonial, racist and patriarchal systems of oppression that have created and driven it. We have to tear them all down. Our political leaders can no longer escape their responsibilities. "

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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