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In Honour of International Women’s Day, Let’s Stop Harming and Start Helping


It’s International Women’s Day, a good time to reflect on the fact that women around the globe are, and will be in the future, disproportionately affected by a changing climate. Oxfam lists the ways that climate change affects women – and consequently children:

  • Women are more likely to die during natural disasters than men. With extreme weather events increasing around the world,more  women will die unnecessarily because of our fossil fuel dependence.
  • Climate change is deepening the food crisis for women and their families. Farming is risky business at the best of times. With less reliable weather conditions, more drought and torrential downpours, it has become much more difficult, particularly for subsistence farmers, the majority of whom are women growing food for their families.
  • Climate change leads to increased illness and disease and women are the primary caregivers for the sick.
  • Indigenous women bear a triple burden despite decades demanding international action on the environment. Drought, flooding, erratic temperatures and extinction of plants and animals weaken not just the planet but also indigenous women’s identity, well-being and way of life.
  • Climate change makes women’s long workday even longer. When unpredictable rainfall makes food, fuel and water scarce, women have to walk longer and farther to collect them ¾ time that could have been spent studying, earning an income or working to better their communities.
  • Global warming increases the likelihood of armed conflict, including violence against women. As more wars start over increasingly scarce resources, the incidences of rape and murder of women will increase.

Oxfam also points out, however, that women have the knowledge and skills to adapt to climate change and to find a sustainable path out of poverty. They need the power, tools and resources to turn this knowledge into solutions. Wouldn’t it be great if women and men in the industrialized world, who have benefited from our profligate use of fossil fuels over the last several centuries, made a commitment to stop harming and start helping the most disadvantaged among us?

Here’s an amazing woman, the late Wangari Maathai, a tireless women’s rights campaigner, founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Peace Prize winner, in 2007, telling the inspiring story of the hummingbird:

More links:

Oxfam: Women & Climate Change

Oxfam: Female Food Heroes

2 Comments leave one →
  1. G.J.W. permalink
    2012/03/08 6:26 pm

    What do we do about, the stupidity, of governments destroying farmland? The site-C-dam in BC, will flood the most valuable farmland in Canada. The water will be used for fracking gas, which poisons the clean underground water for miles. The water coming out of our faucets, can be lit on fire.

    All the treasure of the fertile, BC Fraser Valley farmland, is being destroyed by greed, and committed to malls and urban sprawl.

    A global shortage of food does not stop greed. Climate change does not stop the greed, of the dirty Alberta tar sands either. Scientists have found acid in the ocean, right up to the shores of BC. The acid will eat the shells off the crustaceans. The coral is bleaching white, and little growth for new coral. Our oceans are on an overdose of Carbon Dioxide. If the ocean dies, we die.

    The number one enemy, are the greedy politicians and the gigantic oil and gas corporations. If we don’t get rid of fossil fuels, the planet will get rid of us.

    As a matter of fact, man is even polluting space with debris. They are concerned, the debris may hit the space station and knock satellites out.

    Man is the most destructive animal on earth, and the most stupid one at that. Now, they are also the most stupid animals in space, as well.

    • 2012/03/09 6:08 am

      I hear your anger and your pain, GJW. You have clearly identified that the “forest is on fire” as Dr. Wangari described. The question for you, and for each one of us who have “swallowed the red pill” (to use a Matrix metaphor) is will we be one of the animals who stood around and watched, or will we be a hummingbird?

      Never underestimate the power of one person taking positive action. Feel the pain, cry the tears whenever they want to come, shout and shake your fist at the sky/God/Ottawa (etc) and then decide what YOU are going to do to make your corner of the world a better, more loving, more sane place to be.

      Here’s Paul Hawken on the planet’s “immune response” to the things you listed above.

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