Women and girls are subject to a disproportionate amount of risk from climate-related natural disasters. Risks during and following natural disasters are often higher for women and girls due to social norms, breakdowns in law and order, and disrupted livelihoods. Human trafficking booms when women and girls are desperate to find solutions to economic hardships, and sexual assault in relief camps is a significant problem. Reduction in reliable water sources hits women and girls—often responsible for collecting water for families—especially hard.
As women and girls often bear the brunt of risks and vulnerabilities brought on by droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events, they are also at the front lines of adaptation and well-positioned as important and necessary stakeholders in effective adaptation to climate change. Gender-responsive programming can empower women, reduce gender inequality, and improve adaptation, mitigation, and resilience results. In Nicaragua, women conserve and restore depleted mangroves while increasing their income by sustainably harvesting, preparing, and selling black cockles. Throughout the world, women are helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by switching from traditional, high-emissions cooking methods to using clean cookstoves. Some are also expanding their livelihoods and helping to scale up mitigation efforts by selling improved cookstoves, promoting renewable energy through their work as utility sector professionals, and more. The opportunities to address gender equality are countless. Livelihood resilience programs can ensure that women are prepared for climate change by diversifying sources of income. Agricultural and governance programs expanding formal land tenure can ensure that women’s ability to inherit and own land—and therefore invest in the resilience and sustainability of their lands—is not restricted. And health programs addressing changing infectious disease patterns resulting from climate shifts can take into account the special needs of pregnant women and children
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