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Climate Change and Women’s Suffering.. Causes and Repercussions

The problem of climate change has become the most important and serious issue on the list of international problems, which in turn imposes compulsory cooperation among the countries of the world to reduce its consequences, especially after its recent increase in frequency and the multiplication of heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, forest fires and devastating floods, and has had a negative impact on the security and stability of countries, especially those suffering from conflict and precarious situations.

Sociologists and environmental experts believe that the repercussions of climate change affect poor and fragile communities more than others, and the most vulnerable social groups, especially women, in light of the neglect of funds directed to reduce the repercussions of climate change from a gender perspective, while the year 2020 was A record year for the green, social and sustainable bond market, with total issuances exceeding $600 billion, less than 1% of this market was aligned with women’s empowerment goals. This was realized by the countries of the world and the UN institutions concerned with combating environmental damages resulting from climate change, and then work began to develop frameworks and agreements for “gender-responsive climate action.” The Paris Climate Agreement came to emphasize the importance of increasing the level of inclusion and gender equality in work and related policies. Climate: Article 7 states that “Parties recognize that adaptation actions should follow a country-oriented, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent approach.

Climate change is not just an environmental problem, but rather a problem related to gender equality and justice, and it requires further study and analysis. Therefore, the Strategic Forum for Public Policy and Development Studies “Draya” issues a research paper that highlights the gender gap index in harming the environment, along with the causes and repercussions Climate changes on women, and the efforts of the Egyptian state to reduce the seriousness of these repercussions on women, as well as providing some recommendations that may contribute to empowering women to face the repercussions of climate change, through the following axes.

First: The gender gap index in harming the environment

-Women at the forefront of environmental defense

-Women are drivers of solutions and agents of change

 Second:  the Reasons for the suffering of women more from climate change than men 

Third: the repercussions of climate change on women

Fourth: State efforts to reduce the impact of climate change on the status of women

Fifth: Recommendations at the local, regional and international levels

The paper’s main findings are as follows:

1-Men spending on goods causes 16% more greenhouse gas emissions than women

2- – Women prefer to buy environmentally friendly products and tend to recycle waste

3- Carbon pollution is lower in countries with greater women’s participation in decision-making

4- Women constitute 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty, and are responsible for providing for 40% of the poorest households in urban areas

5-80% of people displaced by climate change are women, which makes them more vulnerable to violence, and more than 1.5 million girls marry early as a direct result of climate change

6- Women’s vulnerability to climate change is up to 14 times higher than men, and the number of female deaths is higher than men

7- Climate change has prevented nearly 4 million girls in low- and middle-income countries from completing their education in 2021, and it is expected to reach 12.5 million girls by 2025

The paper also made several recommendations at the local, regional and international levels, most notably:

1- Enacting laws and legislations that support the active participation of women in facing climate change issues

2-Providing more leadership positions for women at all levels within villages, cities and governorates

3-Implementing the quota system to integrate women into government jobs and environmentally friendly projects

4- Granting more loans and credit facilities to women who implement environmentally friendly projects and contribute to their protection

5-Strengthening the partnership between all state actors and civil society institutions in order to contribute to the empowerment of women

This is illustrated in more detail by monitoring the situation of women in general in the face of climate changes all over the world, with a special monitoring of the situation of Egyptian women and the state’s efforts to support and empower them to confront, as follows:

First: The Gender Gap Index in Environmental Damage

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) released a report in 2020 confirming that women pollute the environment less than men and the extent of the damage caused by women to the environment is much less compared to men. The report emphasized that masculinity is often associated with practices that involve high levels of carbon emissions, while femininity is associated with more attention and therefore green behaviour.

The report notes that women’s travel patterns are more environmentally friendly than those of men, as they are less likely to own or use a car, often travel shorter distances, prefer to walk and use bicycles or public transportation more frequently than men.

According to a scientific study conducted in Sweden, men spending on goods causes an increase in greenhouse emissions by 16% compared to women, as men spend more on energy and eat more meat than women.

The study confirmed the tendency of women to spend money on “low-emissions products” such as clothing, furnishings and health care, while men spend 70% of their money on greenhouse products, and this is illustrated by the following figure prepared by researcher Anika Carlson-Kanyama, where it shows the difference between emissions from greenhouse gases. Spending for men and women.

Source: Carlsson Kanyama et al, Journal for Industrial Ecology, 2021

Women at the forefront of defending the environment

Although women do much less damage to the environment compared to men, they are the most contributors to combating climate change and defending environmental rights. Scientists and researchers have found that women prioritize climate change and are more likely to join environmental movements than men.

Women are drivers of solutions and agents of change

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described women as “drivers of solutions” when they are empowered because of their unique ability, and British Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, stated that engaging women in efforts to combat climate change will not only advance gender equality. gender, but also to better and more sustainable outcomes for the protection of the planet.

While one of the leading scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Manal Pathak, said: “If you improve women’s participation in politics, then climate action is stronger. Faster this view is supported by a report issued by the authority indicating that carbon pollution is lower in countries where women are more involved in the decision-making process.

In this context, a survey in Lithuania revealed that women in Lithuania are more willing than men to make lifestyle changes to contribute to mitigating climate change.

Second:  the Reasons for the suffering of women

 A report issued by “Women for Climate Justice International” under the title “Even climate change oppresses women” indicated that the rate of women affected by climate change and its repercussions is up to 14 times higher than that of men.

Several international reports, including the United Nations Development Program report on Asia and the Pacific, have indicated that the main reasons for women’s exposure to climate change damage beyond men are due to many reasons, the most prominent of which are the following:

1- Gender differences related to how time is spent, difficulty in accessing property and obtaining loans, and different treatment by markets and official institutions. This includes the legal and regulatory framework, including limited land ownership as only 10-20% of land is owned by women, while more than 50% of agricultural work is done by women.

2-Limited representation of women in efforts to combat climate change: Women face challenges in accessing all levels of policies and decision-making processes. For decades, warnings of gender inequality have been ignored, especially with regard to opportunities to participate in efforts to combat climate change. If this continues, Situation At the current pace, it will take 130 years to achieve gender equality in senior positions, according to a United Nations report.

3-Social customs and cultural heritage that impose restrictions on women and limit their ability to obtain information and skills necessary to escape or avoid dangers, especially in countries most prone to natural disasters, such as swimming and climbing trees to escape from high water levels in the event of hurricanes, floods and heavy rains. Which increases the mortality rate of women in the event of natural disasters. At the time of the 2004 tsunami, three times as many women were killed in Indonesia as men, because fewer women could swim than men.

4- The lack of gender-disaggregated data across all sectors (eg livelihoods, disaster preparedness, environmental protection, health and well-being) often leads to an underestimation of the role and contributions of women.” Thus, emergency response and preparedness are not tailored to women’s needs.

5- The spread of poverty: In most of the poor and developing countries of the world, a large percentage of women work in the fields of agriculture and small projects, which are naturally more sensitive to climate changes and less able to recover from the effects of these changes, which in turn affects their income.

6-Decreased opportunities for women in education and access to jobs: Women’s educational conditions are still poor and their ability to obtain suitable jobs is still limited. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization “UNESCO” confirmed that the percentage of illiterate adults among women around the world in 2018 was 63 %, which has not changed much since 2000, when it was 64%.

7-The importance of educating women lies in maximizing their capabilities and enabling them greatly to deal with challenges and deal with crises, especially climatic, those problems that need innovative solutions that require a high cultural awareness of those interested in this regard.

8- Weak international support: The repercussions of climate impacts on women were not among the issues raised on the international dialogue table until recently, but with the increasing danger of climate change and its dangerous repercussions, international organizations began to take this issue into consideration, especially with the increasing suffering of women in particular from these issues. Big climatic changes and their huge impacts.

Despite this, there is an improvement in the world’s view of this problem, as a report published by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website monitors the plans of some countries to implement “gender-sensitive” climate measures, as it indicates that interest in gender appeared by about 19.6 percent. % in countries’ long-term strategies to reduce emissions in the long term, and 81.6% in national adaptation plans.

Third: the repercussions of climate change on women

According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the absence of gender equality increases the risks of climate change for women, and the most prominent repercussions of climate change on women can be summarized as follows:

1- Aggravation of violence against women

According to statistics issued by the United Nations, 80% of those displaced by climate change are women, which makes them more vulnerable to violence, especially during natural disasters and difficult climatic conditions. “Human destruction of nature can fuel violence against women around the world,” said Grethel Aguilar, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Violence against women can be monitored through the following:

Forced marriage of girls: The high rates of forced marriage of girls in times of crisis is considered a coping and survival strategy with the aim of compensating for the losses incurred by marginalized families due to the repercussions of disasters related to climate change.

Studies indicate that more than 1.5 million girls marry early as a direct result of climate change. For example, families in Malawi marry their underage daughters to help support families in light of the economic pressures imposed by climatic disasters, and families in Ethiopia forcefully marry girls during periods of severe drought in exchange for livestock.

Sexual abuse: When women migrate to alternative areas, they are subjected to sexual abuse classified as “violent” according to the United Nations. Rapes are frequent in exchange for women’s access to food and water, or allowing them to complete their displacement and relocation to alternative places.

2- Public Health: Most studies confirm a higher number of female deaths as a result of the consequences of climate changes than men, due to a lack of information among women or weak skills to deal with climate changes or because of the repercussions of these changes.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights study Gender-Smart Climate Action, saltier drinking water due to rising sea levels is causing premature births and maternal and newborn deaths.

3-Food security: Climate change represents a serious threat to food security for all groups in general, and women in particular, because they are the weakest link in facing natural disasters, and they have nutritional needs during pregnancy, lactation and childbirth, especially since about two-thirds of the female workforce in developing countries, and more More than 90% in many African countries are engaged in agricultural activities.

4- Increasing rates of unemployment and lack of safe work opportunities: Women mainly suffer from lower job opportunities compared to men in natural conditions, and this matter increases if their countries or areas where they live are exposed to natural disasters or major repercussions of climate changes that cause the depletion of resources and the destruction of infrastructure. infrastructure, which increases unemployment.

5- Dropping out of education:

Climate change was the reason why many girls dropped out of school or did not attend school, as a report issued by the Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education for UNESCO stated that climate changes prevented nearly 4 million girls in low- and middle-income countries from completing their education in 2018. 2021. And he stressed that if current trends continue, by 2025 climate change will be a contributing factor in preventing at least 12.5 million girls annually from completing their education.

Fourth: The state’s efforts to limit the repercussions of climate change on women

Egyptian women are not isolated from the negative effects of climate change, especially since Egypt is one of the country’s most vulnerable to climate change, despite its very limited contribution to these repercussions (0.6% of total global emissions, according to statistics).

There are several factors that weaken the status of Egyptian women and ways to empower them in the face of climate changes, the most prominent of which is the increase in the unemployment rate among females, which reached 16% in 2021, compared to the unemployment rate among males, which amounted to 5.6%, in addition to the weak female participation in the labor force, which amounts to About 5.063 million working women, compared to 24.296 million men in 2021.

The Egyptian state sought to confront climate change along with empowering Egyptian women, raising their capabilities and caring for them at all levels and in various fields, and gave priority to the issue of achieving gender equality. In light of this, we review the state’s efforts to empower women in facing climate change as follows:

1-Establishment of the National Council for Climate Change headed by the Prime Minister. It aims to draw up the state’s general policies with regard to dealing with climate change, work on developing and updating sectoral strategies and plans for climate change, in light of international agreements and national interests, and work on formulating and updating a comprehensive national strategy for climate change.

2- Launching the National Climate Change Strategy 2050: aims to effectively address the effects and repercussions of climate change, thus contributing to improving the quality of life for the Egyptian citizen. It also stipulates “building resilience and the ability to adapt to climate change and mitigate the negative effects associated with climate change.” A number of sub-goals related to the empowerment of women are linked to this goal, which states the following:

3-Directing special attention to citizens with special risk factors, such as women, especially pregnant and lactating women, and children.

4-Raising citizens’ awareness of the health risks posed by climate change with a focus on the most vulnerable groups such as women, especially pregnant and lactating women.

5-Providing sources of proper nutrition in the poorest areas, with a focus on vulnerable groups such as women, especially pregnant and lactating women.

6-Launching the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Women: It includes 4 main axes:

the first: economic empowerment with the aim of increasing their participation in the labor force, and achieving equal opportunities in employing women in all sectors.

the second: social empowerment with the aim of creating opportunities for greater social participation of women and preventing practices that perpetuate discrimination.

Third: Protection with the aim of eliminating negative phenomena that threaten women’s lives, including protecting them from environmental dangers.

Fourth: Political empowerment and leadership with the aim of stimulating women’s political participation in all its forms.

7-Launching the comprehensive perspective of women, the environment and climate change: It includes 7 actionable axes which are promoting gender equality perspectives within adaptation, mitigation and responses, enhancing women’s voice and effective participation in environmental governance, and enhancing women’s opportunities to participate in a just environmental transition to a green economy and consumption habits. Green and blue economy in the context of achieving sustainable development.

8- Launching the “Decent Life” program: It is the largest development program in Egypt, as the empowerment of breadwinner women represents the most important axes of the program, which aims to empower them economically and socially, and includes the allocation of 800 billion pounds for 58 million citizens, 50% of whom are women.

9-Launching the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects: an initiative aimed at stimulating creative ideas and innovative solutions in all parts of Egypt to deal with the challenges of climate change, in a manner consistent with the state’s approach to green transformation.

10-Allocating Women’s Day at the Cop27 Climate Conference: This day aims to contribute to spreading awareness among women and highlighting the green job opportunities available to them, in addition to discussing the challenges, required policies, and mechanisms to empower women to face the negative effects of climate change.

Fifth: Recommendations at the local, regional and international levels

The repercussions of climate change on women still require more effort locally, regionally and internationally, and they can be summarized as follows:

1- Enforcing laws that would punish perpetrators of violence against women and their harassers.

2- Enacting laws and legislations that support the effective participation of women in facing climate change issues.

3-Providing more leadership positions for women at all levels within villages, cities and governorates.

4- Implementing a quota system to integrate women into government jobs and environmentally friendly projects.

5- Granting more loans and credit facilities to women who implement environmentally friendly projects and contribute to its protection.

6- Strengthening the partnership between all actors in the state and civil society institutions in order to contribute to the empowerment of women.

7- Develop programs aimed at contributing to reducing the economic, social and cultural challenges faced by women, and integrating them into the policies of programs aimed at development.

8- 8-Enhancing the role of the private sector as an entity capable of innovation and providing financial support to contribute to climate action and empower women.


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