How Global Climate Change Oppresses Women

Sabrina Torres

     Many researchers avoid the task of studying the gaps between gender and environmental impacts. Global climate change increases the responsibilities of women dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. I wish to share that exploitation and carelessness towards the environment reflects in the treatment and status of women and any others considered minorities (Terry). The social movement, as well as ethical philosophy, of Ecofeminism connects the gaps between gender oppression and environmental degradation caused by male Western dominance (Manion). The domination of nature extends to the treatment of women, ‘minority’ races, and social inequalities (Twine). This movement has proved to work best against oppressive obstacles through grassroots initiatives.

       Ecofeminism is a strategic response to the persistent Western association of women with nature (Twine). It connects ecological and feminist issues as one in the same. Although there is no single definition of ecofeminism, the beliefs remain highly similar. The foundation is built upon intersectional, inclusive, and holistic morality where patriarchy and unjust domination over marginalized beings are stressed as the root problem. This movement strives to expand the frameworks of modern society by displaying a more inclusive viewpoint on issues outside of the existing masculine focused lens. Ecofeminism is a liberating movement for both women, ‘minority’ people and nature. It is only after human injustices to other humans is addressed that environmental issues will soon after resolve.

      The severe topic of climate change through the past decade has unfortunately, yet finally, become a household conversation. In this blog, there is absolutely no debate whether climate change is real or not. The issue lies on how drastic the apparent atmospheric changes impact populations around the globe and how well these populations adjust. The most impacted populations are those most reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods (Gender and Climate Change).

        “Gender inequality is a root cause of poverty. Climate change in turn, is making poverty worse. This means that the chances of achieving a better life, for many women and girls living in poverty, are threatened by a double injustice; climate change and gender inequality” (Otzelberger). These groups tend to have the least capacity to respond to natural hazards, such as droughts and floods, that are intensified due to climate change. It is unveiled further in this rarely discussed gender-climate change issue that amongst these immediately impacted groups, women face the highest risk and burdens inflicted by climate change in situations of poverty. “Poverty has a woman’s face” (Haq). These immediately impacted women continue to be overlooked and have the least voice in political discussions on climate change and poverty resolutions. It is a disadvantage for policy-makers to disregard gender sensitive responses to the effects of climate change. Women play a critical role with their first hand experiences and increasing quotidian burdens due to the lack of local natural resources. On top of this, they face unequal access to resources and decision making-processes. As stewards of household and natural resources, women are not merely victims, but also powerful agents that have valuable knowledge and adaptive strategies responding to climate change induced situations that can be utilized for sustainable development planning.

    The importance of this blog is to take time to reflect that many policies we argue for or against impact particular stakeholders more-so than others. Not many people consider gender oppression when discussing environmental issues. It is time to incorporate intersectionality not only in our social experiences but also into our classroom discussions.

    This pertains to our Environmental Economics course as it explores the possibilities of reaching a more sustainable, inclusive framework for policy making; as our class heavily focuses on.  Until recently, major groups of people have remained relatively silent when it comes to policy advocacy and policy making. This includes: basically everyone who is not a white, heterosexual, relatively wealthy male. The frameworks towards economic growth includes competing against one another to acquire maximum utility and maximum profits as the Earth’s natural resources are ultimately free-for-all without consequence. There have been little to no opportunities for women to discuss how they would go amongst establishing an economic model throughout history. Only until recently have female economists been recognized for their intellectual brilliance such as Elinor Ostrom, the only woman to win a Nobel prize in economics, on her proposition challenging the idea of tragedy of the commons. She actually visited communities and to understand how their social systems blended with their local ecosystems. This is an example of alternative thinking that women are able to offer in any discipline as opposed to the repetitive assumptions such as, “humans being rational” in order to support well-known economic theories everyone is taught.

 

Sources

Bollier, David. “The Only Woman to Win the Nobel Prize in Economics Also Debunked the Orthodoxy.” Evonomics, Evonomics, 29 Aug. 2016, evonomics.com/the-only-woman-to-win-the-nobel-prize-economics-debunked/.

Manion, H. K. “Gender within Gender and Development.” What Is Ecofeminism? (n.d.): 1-13. Web.

Otzenberger, Women Watch, UN. “Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change.” UN. N.p., n.d. Web.

Terry, Geraldine. “Climate Change and Gender Justice | Oxfam GB.” Policy & Practice. N.p., 09 Nov. 2009. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.

Twine, Richard. “Masculinity, Nature, Ecofeminism.” What Is Ecofeminism? (n.d.): 1-6. Web.

 

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