The rice and have been forced to deal

The impacts of climate change have proven over the past two decades to be extremely multi faceted in its manifestations, affecting nearly all sectors of the environment. Along with the direct impacts such as property damage and disruption of ways of life, there are also more indirect threats to a woman’s ability to adapt and face environmental dangers, such as societal boundaries and expectations. Both of these are important to evaluate when evaluating climate change’s gendered impact. Rising sea levels put a large damper on agricultural production and access to modern health and sanitation resources in Southern Africa and Asia. As the temperature of the ocean continues to increase, the atoms making up the seawater begin to expand, leading to rising sea levels and flooding. In Southern Africa and Asia, this majorly slows down crop production and increases sanitation risks. For example, in Senegal the increased sea levels and frequency of floods has greatly affected the salinity of the country’s rice fields, putting a damper on the nation’s ability to produce rice, and the ability of the communities to avoid health risks. In Senegal, women are the main producers of rice and have been forced to deal with these consequences. Similarly, Cotonou, Benin, in West Africa also faces dangers that come with sea level rise: the reappearance of tropical diseases due to the development of breeding grounds for mosquitoes that spread malaria and tsetse fly larvae. This has led to an increase in diseases which have increased mortality rates among the women who produce most of the crops, and pregnant women in the community. This shows that rising sea levels in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa not only affects the country’s resources and abilities to develop, but it also threatens the health and safety of its citizens, more specifically its female population. Since women have the responsibility of tending to the irrigation needs of the communities, they are more susceptible to health problems. Water scarcity has also become a much more serious problem as climate change continues to negatively impact water supplies around the world. Prolonged periods without adequate rainfall lead to serious droughts, affecting crop productivity, deteriorating soil properties, displacement of communities, and loss of lives. Lack of access to clean drinking water also disproportionately affects women, who bear the responsibility of finding and transporting water to their communities. Globally, women and children collectively spend 140 million hours per day collecting water, usually travelling long distances and risking rape and abduction, while also missing out on opportunities to go to school or be involved in the community. These women must travel long distances in search of water that is depleting in these regions. These journeys also make women more vulnerable to sexual abuse or violence. This is especially true in nations such as South Sudan or the Democratic Republic of Congo, where instances of rape or abduction during the women’s trips for water have been steadily increasing as the threat of climate change has worsened. This shows that women are disproportionately affected by the water scarcity crisis occurring in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa through their more strenuous duties along with an increased vulnerability to sexual abuse. This also means that entire communities are at risk of losing access to clean water. If nations were to improve conditions for the women in charge of retrieving water or fix water scarcity at its root, these women would be safer from predators and from potential health risks. Modern health and sanitation resources are also increasingly hard to come by in these areas. When temperatures become notably higher, the likelihood of contracting a vector-borne disease such as dengue or malaria increase, as is the case with many communities in India. In India, poor women are the most susceptible to these diseases and also have the least access to clean water and modern medicine. Studies have shown that pregnant women are the most susceptible to malaria carrying mosquitoes, and are at risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, or increased risk of infection. This combined with the lack of modern medicine and clean water in these areas puts women at a significantly higher risk than men. ┬áThis means that with the general temperatures of the environment increasing within the vulnerable areas of Southeast Asia and Southern Africa, women are more vulnerable to the increased risk of malaria and other vector borne diseases. This also shows the type of direct impact that climate change and climate related consequences have on the physical health of women in these countries. If countries were to focus either on the eradication of malaria in the name of women’s health safety or focus on implementing cleaner forms of energy, the quality of livelihoods and safety of their female populations would most likely be higher. One indirect manifestation of a changing climate is through its potential to create mass displacement within families and communities. According to UNHCR, 80% of refugees in the world are women and children. When conditions become too severe and unable to live or work in, migration can be one of the most effective methods of climate adaptation, however, when not conducted in an organized and regulated fashion, women, children, and families run serious risks associated with climate induced migration. In his study of women in Bangladesh impacted by floods, Abu Kalem Azad found that nearly 61% of those surveyed were evicted from their normal homes in times of severe flood, and the sanitation facilities of 21% were damaged. They also found that 89% of the women surveyed became ill from wearing wet clothing, since they did not have adequate spare clothing. This shows that environmental migration is not only a large risk for families, but it again disproportionately affects women. As climate change induced migration becomes more common, it will become more crucial for the international community to modify laws and regulations regarding the rights of environmental migrants, and determine the best methods of protection for the families involved. The final indirect manifestation of climate change is its link to human trafficking. While human trafficking does not always involve migration, traffickers often take advantage of the vulnerability of the women escaping their homes and expose them to devastating conditions such as forced prostitution, marriage, and labor. This link between environmental migration and human trafficking relates back to the increased vulnerability of women contracting HIV, malaria, or being raped or abducted on their way to gather water. If countries within Southeast Asia and Southern Africa were to empower the women that were affected as well as prioritize environmental regulations, many of these statistics could be reduced and the safety of the female populations in these areas would be better.


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