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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
Women suffer more from climate change
11/26/2009
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Women´s role in farming and child-rearing in developing countries means they are more affected by climate change than men.

Extreme weather caused by climate change such as floods and drought affect women in developing countries more than their male counterparts, according to a report by the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA.

“Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change, even though they contributed the least to it,” says UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid when the “State of World Population 2009: Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate” report was released.

The UN agency notes that poor populations are far more vulnerable to the effects of climate than higher-income populations because they are likely to live in low-lying coastal areas that are susceptible to floods, storms and rising sea levels. They are also more likely to depend on agriculture and fishing, so are even more vulnerable when those activities are put at risk by natural disasters.

Climate change “threatens to exacerbate the gaps between rich and poor and amplify the inequities between women and men,” said the report. Women “are among the most vulnerable to climate change, partly because in many countries they make up the larger share of the agricultural work force and partly because they tend to have access to fewer income-earning opportunities.”

According to the UNFPA, women are 14 times more likely to die during a natural disaster than men.

Since women manage households and care for children and other family members, their mobility is limited.

“Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes,” added the report. “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.”

Latin America, which has one of the world´s lowest greenhouse gas emissions, a cause of climate change, is particularly vulnerable.

Upon presenting the report in Mexico City, Marcela Suazo, the UNFPA´s Latin America director said natural disasters have become worse over the last two decades amid massive deforestation, land degradation and urbanization. Forty-percent of the region´s population lives in areas in areas that hold just 10 percent of the water resources.

“Those who have less access to resources and services, and who are those who contribute the least to climate change, especially women and young people, are those who are suffering more from the impact,” said, adding that Latin America continues to be one of the world´s most “unequal” regions in the world.
– Latinamerica Press.


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