by Patrick Quarberg
Writing about the societal effects of climate change in 2002, Fatma Denton posited that women are more likely to be exposed to poverty in developing countries than men are, climate change will affect men and women differently. This is based on the idea that people in poverty do not have the willingness or means to address or cope with climate change. Denton thinks that social changes brought by climate change will increase gender welfare disparities, introducing a swath of new social issues. Therefore, it is wise to prepare to preemptively counteract these changes, so that a larger section of the population is able to deal with climate change.
Since climate change will increase income disparities while at the same time decreasing the amount of usable resources, it will become increasing challenging to mitigate income disparity. People in poverty need access to “reproductive resources”, which include fertile land and clean water. As Co2 levels rise, both of these will become scarcer. This creates a sort of self-feeding cycle in which the people living in poverty are not only excluded from policy-making decisions related to climate change, but are also incapable of even dealing with mitigating climate change. This furthers the severity of climate change, which could in turn force more women and poorer people into poverty. This cycle could be cut off, or at least heavily slowed down by educating and providing for women living in poor countries. In many less developed countries, resources are not divided evenly among men and women, which is why this issue is especially pertinent to women. While this is certainly an issue regardless of the effects of climate change, it will be made even more severe once the effects of global climate change are factored in. For this reason, preemptively fighting this issue, before climate change has a major effect, is extremely important.
Denton, F. 2002. Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation: Why Does Gender Matter? Gender and Development Volume 10, pp. 10-20