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Men or women: Who is most affected by climate change?

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According to UN data, women have 14 times more risk of dying during an environmental catastrophe

Men or women: Who is most affected by climate change?

During an environmental disaster, the power of nature seems to have a devastating effect that does not distinguish between gender, race or age. However, according to research by the Organization for the United Nations, women are 14 times more likely to die during environmental catastrophes.

Leer en español: Hombres o mujeres: ¿A quién afecta más el cambio climático?

The reason for this phenomenon lies in the socio-economic and cultural characteristics that in many countries are still imposed on women. Bangladesh is one of the clearest examples. In this nation located in South Asia, only men are trained to learn to swim, which is why during the floods that frequently affect the region, the deadly figures of women and girls are higher than those of men.

As indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO), 75% of deaths that occur during a flood or avalanche are attributed to drowning. That is why cultural traits such as those mentioned about Bangladesh, make the female gender more vulnerable to these natural events. The figures confirmed this during the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, which left 260,000 dead but in some affected countries such as India, Indonesia, and Thailand, female deaths were four times higher than in men.

Death, displacement and sexual abuse

In many developing countries and rural areas, women are responsible for managing the household, are caring for two or more people (older adults and children as a rule) and because of their activities, access to information is limited they receive escape alerts on time and can not evacuate easily since they must first assist others.

Figures collected by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) show that 80% of people displaced by natural events are women. In addition to the material and human losses that this population faces, they are also vulnerable to fall into networks of prostitution, trafficking in persons and sexual abuse of men who come promising to work elsewhere.

You may also be interested: Syria: What is the reality of women and girls affected by the conflict?

As indicated by UNFPA in one of its reports, "women, particularly young women and adolescents, are especially vulnerable to the various manifestations of gender-based violence (GV) in periods of humanitarian emergency. Sexual violence, harassment, sexual exploitation and abuse, human trafficking or even femicide are some of the forms presented by the VG in times of crisis."

An example of this was the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, where, according to UN Women's research, a 15% increase in trafficking of women and children was reported.

Under this scenario, it is evident that the effects of climate change affect the female gender more at a global level. Although some international organizations begin to approach the problem from this perspective, the advances are still few and varied.

The Paris Agreement signed in 2015 highlights the importance of providing more resources and assistance to women affected by natural disasters, however for some experts such as Eleanor Blomstrom, co-director of Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), the plans of action for the protection of women during climate change are still insufficient and a deeper understanding of the situation must be reached, starting with guaranteeing gender equality worldwide.

 

LatinAmerican Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Translated from "Hombres o mujeres: ¿A quién afecta más el cambio climático?"

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