by Phoebe Shum
Who knew that gender bias could exist even in a topic such as climate change?
According to the UN, women are most vulnerable to climate change due to their role in food production. After all, 70% of the world’s farmers are women, and these women produce 60-80% of the world’s food crops. Trish Glazebrook (2011), Philosophy Professor from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, explains how climate change particularly affects women subsistence farmers in areas of poverty. In northeast Ghana, the successful growing of crops is highly dependent on the rainy season due to the lack of irrigation technology. The rainy season is the only growing cycle per year, and when anthropogenic climate change causes extreme and abnormal weather conditions like droughts and floods, farming patterns are altered and the women are not able to provide subsistence for their families. Land degradation, desertification and soil erosion heavily affect the women, and the many people they provide for. On average, one woman can be responsible for 6 to 17 people, from children to the elderly to the sick to the handicapped. Their survival heavily depends on natural resources.
Glazebrook emphatically pushes for the inclusion of women in climate change adaptation policy. She makes it clear that women subsistence farmers in Ghana have vast knowledge in using sustainable farming practices. They use methods like intercropping and crop rotation. They know which crops are best for their fields and use natural alternatives to the insecticides and fertilizers they cannot afford, like ash and animal dung. Through her research efforts, Glazebrook hopes to spread awareness of the growing vulnerability of women in developing countries as climate change continues to take its toll on our environment. These women have valuable insight towards adapting to climate change, and the faster their voices are heard in adaptation efforts, the better off we will be.
Glazebrook, T. (2011) Women and Climate Change: A Case-Study from Northeast Ghana. Hypatia vol. 26, no. 4, 762-782.