Women most vulnerable to climate change, says UN report


New Delhi : Women, particularly those in poor countries, are among the most vulnerable to climate change, said a United Nations report released here Thursday.

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“They (women) are among the most vulnerable to climate change, partly because in many countries they make up a larger share of the agricultural work force and partly because they tend to have access to fewer income-earning opportunities,” the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) report said.

The report ‘Facing a changing world: women, population and climate’ was released by union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh here.

“Women manage households and care for family members, which often limits their mobility and increases their vulnerability to sudden weather-related natural disasters. Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes,” the report said.

“Girls drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks. This cycle of deprivation, poverty and inequality undermines the social capital needed to deal effectively with climate change,” it noted.

“Marginalisation of and discrimination against women and the lack of attention to the way gender inequality hampers development, health, equity and overall human well being – all undermine countries’ resilience to climate change,” it said.

Jairam Ramesh also stressed the importance of the development of women in tackling climate change and said: “Climate Change is a women issue.”

He stated that the landmark Chipko movement of 1970s that resulted in a number of actions for environment protection was a women’s movement from the social point of view.

“No doubt, India is an extremely vulnerable country to climate change,” he added.

The minister, however, refused to accept any connection between population and climate change.

“Between 1985 and 2005, China had a negative population growth but during that period their emissions went up by 40 percent,” he said.

UNFPA representative Nesim Tumkaya said: “As per the 2001 census, approximately 92 million households or 490 million people are dependent on marginal or small farm hoardings. This translates into 60 percent of rural population. Any change in India’s summer monsoon due to climate change will immediately threaten livelihoods of these people.”

“51 percent of entire sown land is totally rain fed. Thus, effects of climate change in the form of drought in the country will have serious implications on the livelihood of these people,” he added.