How natural disasters caused by climate change affect women

Natural disasters, which will increase in the wake of climate change, affect women and men differently. Women, as main caregivers, are more likely to be indoors — particularly in developing countries — when a disaster occurs and won't be able to escape. Even if they do survive, women tend to stay within the community longer afterwards to care for their families, thus exposing themselves to deadly diseases.

Although not linked to global warming, the grave impact that natural disasters have on women can be seen in the death toll from the major Asian tsunami that struck at the end of 2005 and hit the province of Aceh in Indonesia, where 75 percent of those who died were women.

When the death toll from natural disasters has significant gender differences, the resulting gender imbalance in the society can have major, long-term negative consequences. The Asian tsunami left the society with a three-to-one ratio of males to females. With so many mothers gone, the area experienced increases in sexual assaults, prostitution, and a lack of education for girls. Research in this area is still in its infancy, but the IPCC has reported that women are more likely than men to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders after living through a disaster and that men are likely to commit domestic violence against women after natural disasters. This is worrying because climate change is expected to increase the intensity and frequency of storms and extreme weather events around the world.

Continue reading here: Gotelind Alber Getting gender on the agenda

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