Proof in 5 articles that the climate crisis hits ‘women and girls’ the most

While entering the last 3 days of the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Summit meetings held in Glasgow, Scotland, the place of women and girls, who have a more fragile structure in the society, in global warming was discussed on the occasion of November 9 Gender Day.

Climate change affects all countries and people in the world.

These people are directly affected by drought, lack of access to clean water, disasters and storms caused by global warming, and especially those living in poor countries feel climate change “in their veins”, so to speak.

When gender discrimination is added to such problems, women and girls constitute the most fragile structure in these societies.

1- Violence, sexual harassment: Women and girls are exposed to sexual harassment in migration and crisis situations

In 2019, the UN Development Program (UNDP) investigated a community in Uganda’s wetlands whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. In the research, it was seen that climate change reduced the agricultural and livestock activities in the region and the people living in this region suffered from economic difficulties.

UN officials also encountered another interesting data. There was an increase in violence against women after climate change.

Adult women and children had to make long journeys during the dry season to find food and water. Meanwhile, they were sexually harassed by farmers, landowners, and traders.

The housewives experienced sexual reluctance when they returned home due to stress and fatigue after these long and difficult journeys. Their husbands and partners also responded with violence.

Research has shown that men in these communities are stressed by poor weather conditions, lack of harvest, loss of property, and low income, and are more likely to cause domestic violence with increased alcohol intake. Of course, women and girls at home were most affected by this violence.

Families who lost their homes after the storm and natural disasters had to stay in temporary camps. Here, too, women and girls were the most exposed to violence by foreigners.

In a study conducted by Relief Web in Bangladesh, families who have to migrate after the monsoon rains seen in the country every year are subjected to violence and live under intense stress. One of them is 14-year-old girl Sathi.

Sathi states that they can’t sleep at night because of fear: “There is no door to the place where we are staying. Only a plastic sheet covers us. My mother cannot sleep at night either. Because she is afraid that something will happen to me and my sisters.”

2- Child marriages: Families facing financial difficulties marry their daughters at an early age.

Recently, there has been a lot of news in the world media about some families selling their daughters for only a few thousand dollars due to the pressure of the Taliban organization and the economic difficulties of the people in Afghanistan.

This is actually just the tip of the iceberg. There are millions of families in the world who are in the grip of poverty, affected by natural disasters, cannot receive adequate education and therefore live under stress in an insecure society. One of the first things that families with such a fragile structure do in order to hold on to life is to marry their daughters, if any, at a young age.

There are many different reasons for this. As in the case of Afghanistan, some families sell their daughters like sacrificial sheep and try to make a living with the money they earn.

However, according to many UN studies, many families in societies that experience extreme droughts, storms and natural disasters either marry their daughters at an early age, or have problems with it, out of fear that they will not be able to protect or care for them.

Speaking to Relief Web, 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl Sarmin stated that the living conditions in the region where she lives are especially difficult for women. she says.

Sarmin’s family lost their home after the flood. For this reason, the parents married their daughters at an early age so that Sarmin would be in a safe environment and not have food shortages.

3- Birth control: In crisis situations, women are exposed to unwanted pregnancies

It is a very important issue for women to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the process of decreasing or changing family life and society’s living standards due to the climate crisis. Unfortunately, it is an undeniable fact that women are negatively affected by this situation in economically underdeveloped countries and especially in poor societies.

In a study by the non-governmental organization MSI Reproductive Choices, at least 11.5 million women from families who had to migrate in 26 countries affected by the climate crisis since 2011 did not have adequate access to contraception, and many experienced unwanted pregnancies.

According to MSI data, 6.2 million unintended pregnancies, 2.1 million unsafe abortions and approximately 6,000 maternal deaths will occur if the birth control demands of these fragile women are not met in the next ten years.

MSI Regional Director Sanou Gning, in an interview with Euronews Green, noted that women and girls contribute the least to global warming, but they are the most affected by the negative conditions it brings.

Stating that many families migrated and had to live in makeshift huts due to erosion in some parts of Senegal, Gning said, “Many women and girls have to live in this fragile environment. Most of them have unwanted pregnancies in this developing crisis environment. We must listen and meet their demands.” he said.

One of these women is Rohki. Rohki, who had to migrate due to the famine experienced during the fishing period after the climate change, had an unwanted pregnancy and subsequently gave birth. Rohni states that it is very difficult to hold on to life in this crisis environment with her baby:

“I got pregnant again before my previous child could even walk. But when the boats approach the shore, we have to act very quickly. But when I have a child and I am pregnant, it is quite difficult to rush into these things.”

4- Education: Girls are withdrawn from school at an early age if financial problems arise.

One of the first things families do after migration and economic problems as a result of the climate crisis is to pick up their girls from school.

After the drought in Ethiopia, 14-year-old Dawele had to drop out of school as a result of the pressure of her family. Dawele summarizes her experiences as follows:

“We have to walk 8 hours a day to find water. Because of this, I can’t go to school anymore. I love mathematics and want to be a teacher. However, I have no idea what future awaits me right now.”

Another problem that awaits girls when they drop out of school is that they are forced to marry at an early age. Continuing education for girls has the effect of preventing child marriages, early pregnancies and female genital mutilation.

Malala Fund, a non-governmental organization that works for the education of girls, states that despite this fact, at least 4 million girls from low- and middle-income families dropped out of school in 2021 due to reasons such as pandemic and climate change.

If action is not taken and the climate crisis continues to escalate, at least 12.5 million girls will have to leave school at an early age in 2025, mostly in poor countries.

5- Death and injury: Women are more affected by natural disasters

According to the results of approximately 53 different studies, two-thirds of the people killed or injured in extreme weather events and natural disasters are women.

When we look at the findings, the rate of women being affected by any crisis increases even more in poor areas with low social status.

Of course, men suffer as much as women in fragile areas, but the negative impact of this negative situation on women and girls is much greater in general.

CARE International non-governmental organization manager Francesca Rhodes stated that climate change has further increased the existing inequality between women and men and said, “However, we remain hopeful. We must find a solution to this problem without discriminating between men and women. For this reason, while taking decisions on issues such as climate crisis and natural disaster, Women need to have a say more than they used to.”

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