As Hurricane Katrina hit hard and floods rolled in, it was women who were left in the Lower Ninth Ward. Disproportionately more likely to live in poverty, eighty percent of the people who remained were women, relegated to stay without cars to transport and with elderly or children to care for. In the days and months to follow, Louisiana communities witnessed an uptick in domestic violence and sexual assault. The lack of schools, childcare facilities, housing and public transportation— magnified barriers to employment and resulted in diminished workforce participation and wages for women of color.
These gender specific realities are universal to natural disasters around the world. In the 1995 Kobe earthquake, 1.5 times as many women died as men and in the 2004 Asian Tsunami, three times as many women were killed. And in Bangladesh in 1991, 90% of those killed by the cyclone were women who were more likely to be home. But the correlation between climate change and women’s rights goes far beyond natural disasters.
Specifically throughout the developing world, women make up the majority of agricultural field labor; impacted both physically and financially by rising temperatures, diminishing access to water and poor air quality.
As water becomes scarcer, women will be forced to trade time at school or work for time at wells and rivers. As disasters become more routine, women will be confined to caring for family at home. And as farming yields decrease, women and girls will eat less to provide food for their male family members. - Maureen Post
It is for these reasons that the link between climate change and women’s rights are intimately linked. Climate change quite literally is a women’s issue. And so in the face of the administration’s current budget and withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, we encourage you to undertake any and all of the following:
1. Combat social and environmental barriers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers by supporting efforts by the American Association of University Women to increase women in STEM education.
2. Oppose the Presidential budget proposal by writing to your congressperson and rejecting the $1 billion dollar cut to the EPA, elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration program and funding cuts for air quality management and climate change research.
3. Support C40, “a network of the world’s mega cities committed to addressing climate change. C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.” http://www.c40.org/cities