Climate change, which is a global phenomenon in contemporary times, has been impacting proportionally every element as per its vulnerability on the planet. Though climate change has affected every human being and different species on the planet, its impact varies disproportionately among men and women. And women and girls being one of the most vulnerable sections of society get hit the most.
As a society, we have never been able to give enough space and dignity as an equal to women in any arena. Being the primary caregiver and responsible for most of the household chores, the women have to take the wrath of any type of severity that comes with climate change. Hazards like heat waves, floods, droughts, cyclones, and other extremes affect women and children severely given their limited coping capacity when turning into a disaster. It is observed in societies like ours, that even when the situation is normal women are the most deprived members of society. They have less access to food items and security as well. While men get all the resources and access to all information related to facilities, it is women who are supposed to sacrifice their comfort and needs due to an age-old societal construct.
During any calamity, women have to travel farther to fetch water, use fuelwood to cook during an extreme heatwave, and sometimes work in the fields for long hours and without food. Women are more likely to live in poverty than men as they are usually not financially independent and have to be dependent on the men in the family to fulfill their basic needs as well. According to a survey conducted by SBI in March 2022, it has been observed that nearly 33% of women find it challenging to be financially independent. Now all of this has, huge excruciating effects on women’s health and morbidity as well. A lot of women suffer from respiratory illness because they use fuelwood for cooking and are exposed to that heat and smoke for long hours. Similarly, they also go through a lot of hygiene-related issues because of the unavailability of proper sanitation amenities in the house. Menstruating girls and women have to go through a lot of infections which results in long-term gynecological adversities. Along with these physical ailments, they also go through a lot of emotional and mental tumult which can culminate in mental trauma.
However, it is highly motivating to see that the government is putting viable effort into bringing tangible change to the situation and also getting these women proper support through Self-Help groups in different communities. When the country has to face any such natural and climate calamities, it is also necessary to make sure that there is enough arrangement of renewable energy to make sure that the livelihood of these people is not hampered. In developing countries, where the existing energy is already in shortage, it is likely impossible to cater to the needs of everyone. In such situations, women have a bigger role in ensuring that there is an alternative source of energy to be able to function in daily life routine. Hence, they are inclined to makeshift towards other sources of energy. However, it is imperative to say that government and local bodies like NGOs do their best to provide resources to make livelihood easier. While the concept of renewable energy is not new, it is mostly understood and utilized in urban areas. Women in rural areas have limited knowledge and resources to make use of renewable energy. However, as they say; desperate times call for desperate needs, and women of all regions and stature successfully happen to shift accordingly.
Similarly, women are typically extremely active in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, even if it is non-formally. They are often equipped with building temporary shelters, organizing soup kitchens, and managing healthcare. As homemakers and caregivers, they can be knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with crises.
Government and strategists must adopt planning measures that acknowledge and formalize the participation of women in disaster management and risk strategies. Strategies should include women from all demographic backgrounds, to identify risks that male planners might not understand. Consulting with women also helps break down stereotypes and discrimination.