Women and Climate

Yesterday was International Women's Day. Because of the disproportionate number of women living in poverty, and the role they play as caregivers, agriculturalists and energy providers women in many countries will be hardest hit by the effects of climate change. At the same time, in my research in Vancouver, Portland (OR), Durban and Cape Town (South Africa) almost without exception the most committed, insightful, and effective climate leaders have been women.

They have carved out a place for climate change, and won allies within municipalities that are often initially very hostile to changing the way they do business. I wanted in some small way to celebrate their accomplishments and draw attention to the unequal burdern that a changing climate willplace on women.

  • 70% of the world’s poor are women. These women are more likely to suffer as a consequence of climate change.
  • 85% of the people who die in climate-induced natural disasters are women.
  • 75% of environmental refugees are women.
  • Women are also more likely to be the unseen victims of resource wars and violence as a result of climate change.
  • Climate change is predicted to reduce crop yields and food production in some regions, particularly the tropics. Women are responsible for 70–80 percent of household food production in sub-Saharan Africa, 65 percent in Asia, and 45 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. They achieve this despite unequal access to land, information, and inputs such as improved seeds and fertilizer.
  • Climate change may exacerbate existing shortages of water. Women, largely responsible for water collection in their communities, are more sensitive to the changes in seasons and climatic conditions that affect water quantity and accessibility that make its collection even more time-consuming.
(sources: CIDA ; Women's Manifesto on CC )

These figures are about more than vulnerability. They show the crucial nature of women's contributions to our current world and emphasize how important it is for climate policies to engage directly with women a partners, decision makers and leaders. They are already central to community survival and will be the linch-pin of successful responses to climate change. Across all levels of economic development, their contributions are helping us to find a better place for ourselves and our cities in the future.

Happy International Women's Day!


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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

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