Women and Climate Change

on Tuesday, 21 May 2013. Posted in Category 1

Women and Climate Change

Phnom Penh 7 February 2014 -- Climate change means change in local knowledge and flexibility, which are at the basis of good agricultural and ecosystem management. In Cambodia change in weather patterns due to climate change has caused deranged rainfall as well as natural disasters such as flood, drought that have severely affected crop yields productions.

The impacts of the climate change could be more severe in Cambodia compared to many other countries in southeast Asia, not because Cambodia is prone to frequent or intense climate change disasters, but because of its vulnerability, which is associated with the widespread agricultural industry and low adaptive capacity due to lack of resources (RGC, 2006).

Climate change has become a global challenge, although, its impact has been universal, still different from regions to region. Similarly, climate change has differentiated gender effects, women and men experience vulnerability to environmental changes differently. Economic, social and political conditions, and social norms about male and female identity and roles, vary in every culture. So, the responses of individuals to their surroundings and to norms of behavior are different too.

In Cambodia climate change has impacted gender in a wider scale since Cambodia ranks 99 out of 145 countries on the Gender Inequality Index (GII) (UNDP, 2012), especially in access to education and public services, which has been originated from traditional rule of the men and women in addition to the social restriction and unequal distribution of power and wealth.

Worldwide in agriculture industry, women are estimated to be 43 percent of the work force (UNEP, 2011). The population of Cambodia consists of 52.6 percent female and 47.4 percent male, 21 percent of which equivalent to 2.2 million people, live in households headed by women. Women compromise over 65 percent of the farming population.

Like many other countries in the world, women represent majority of Cambodia’s poor and are more dependent on threatened natural resources, often rural women (Oxfam America, 2010). Consequently, rural women could be more threatened by climate change hazards therefore, women need to be at the center of attention for climate change adaptation and mitigation plans and strategies. However, women’s involvement in livelihood is not limited to agriculture; women are actively involved in fisheries and managing small livestock and selling of agricultural products as well as working in garment factories.

Additionally, women contribute to household income through other small businesses such as handicrafts and labor exchange. Despite the fact that women's contribution as family labor is considerably high, their work has always been devalued and been overlooked as work. This may also add extra burden on women’s responsibilities as workers as well as household since women are mostly responsible for taking care of the family by preparing food and collecting fuel and water.

There are few dimensions that put women at the frontline of the climate change hazards such as lack of access to formal education, economic poverty, discrimination in food distribution, food insecurity, limited access to resources, exclusion from policy and decision-making institutions and processes and other forms of social marginalization. These dynamics put women at a distinct disadvantage, and few programs include or focus on them for adaptation.


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