The 'Up in Smoke - Asia and Pacific,' coalition of developmental and environmental groups, conducted a study recently. It reports that women in Asia are more affected by climate change than males
Women are more affected by climate change than males, says a latest study by a coalition of developmental and environmental groups on the impact of global warming in Asia.
The study, called 'Up in Smoke - Asia and Pacific', said that as women in Asia have often traditionally been excluded from assuming active roles in community and social functions, women-headed households are likely to be the group most challenged by climate change.
Raman Mehta of ActionAid, an international developmental agency, who was involved in the study, explained this by citing an example. "For instance, when I was involved in the flood rescue operations in the Muzzafarpur district of Bihar this year, I noted that the number of women succumbing to the adverse conditions was much higher than men.
"The reasons are many. Under economic stress, the woman has to handle everything, sacrificing to no end. Sometimes their husbands abandoned them, blaming them for adultery. Already discriminated against, they gave up fighting the challenges alone," Mehta told IANS.
With alternate flooding and drought, the forest cover of the nearby places also got affected. This, in turn, made more difficult the women's task of collecting fuel for the daily cooking, Mehta said.
The report, talking in the Indian context, states that many women here, especially in the rural areas, already have to trek long distances for fuel, fodder and water, things which are considered their duties.
Climatic changes affecting the environment and the forest cover, thus add on to the women's burden. The report also states an example of the time in 1991 when Bangladesh was hit by a cyclone. It was recorded that the number of women who died during that time was five times more than men.
"Men were able to warn each other as they met in public places but they communicated information to the rest of the family only sporadically. Women were not allowed to leave their homes without a male relative. "Thus, they waited for their men to rescue them. And tragically, since most of these women were never taught how to swim, they could not survive the floods," the report said.
As a recommendation, the study states that special attention should be given in all policy areas to study the impact of climate related changes on women. Women also must be empowered, so that they can take decisions and save their lives as well as others and don't have to wait for the men to do so.