Wednesday, 23 September 2009

A gendered perspective on climate change

We have all been hearing a lot about climate change recently – for some this may mean reducing our carbon footprint by pledging to recycle more or not fly, for others this is such a huge issue that we may feel powerless or be waiting for the government to make changes first. This is seen as an issue that affects us all but does it affect some of us more than others?

Globally, women are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to our different social roles and status. In the UK and other developed countries, increasing costs for energy, transport, healthcare and nutrition are likely to affect women more than men. In developing countries, women are already suffering disproportionately more as a consequence of climate change.

Unfortunately many campaigns around climate change do not take this into account and ignore the fact that their campaign actions may also disproportionately affect women. For example asking us to recycle more, turn down our thermostat, buy organic produce and wash at 30 degrees are all actions which women, the majority of the time, will be responsible for.

There is a rich history of women being involved in environmental activism and luckily there are various women’s organisations that are still raising these issues and working on climate change. From the Women’s Environmental Network and the Women’s Institute’s work with their members, to Wise Women, to the Climate Rush, who recreate great Suffragette actions with a new agenda; as well as all the women’s organisations that have environmental policies and are working sustainably as part of their work with and for women.

There is also a new campaign which aims to have cut UK emissions by 10% in 2010. The 10:10 campaign is just beginning but there is a chance for women’s organisations to get involved and profile their environmental work. Contact for more information.

Climate change is an issue that will effect us all but we must make sure that gender is not an afterthought to this movement and that women are not shouldering the burden of responsibility – Take action now, this is only the beginning!

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