Many environmental tragedies will change frequency, magnitude, timing, and location as a result of climate change. Heat waves, for example, are likely to become more widespread, and heavy rains and floods will become more common and severe. While environmental tragedies threaten livelihoods and security around the world, it is women and children who are bearing the brunt of it most. According to a new report, limited resources and environmental tragedies are contributing to an increase in domestic abuse, child marriages, and sexual harassment.
Impact of environmental tragedies on Women
Climate change is a global phenomenon that will affect all nations, but its consequences are influenced by widespread and ingrained gender inequality. Women are disproportionately affected by heat waves, droughts, increasing sea levels, and severe storms. This is because women are more likely than men to live in poverty, have fewer access to basic human rights such as the freedom to travel and gain property, and are subjected to systemic violence that worsens during times of unrest. These and other factors suggest that as climate change worsens, women will be the ones who suffer the most. In reality, the Paris climate agreement has clear measures to ensure that women are supported in dealing with climate change’s dangers.
A global problem
Women in rural areas are not the only ones who are affected. Women are more likely than men to be poor and have less socioeconomic influence across the world. This makes recovery from environmental tragedies that impact infrastructure, employment, and housing more difficult.
Many of the industry’s most vulnerable to climate change, such as agriculture, livestock, and fishing, are dominated by women. To make matters worse, inequalities mean that women are more likely than men to be displaced by floods and drought. According to the United Nations, women make up about 80% of those displaced by environmental tragedies. Women and children made up more than 70% of those affected by Pakistan’s floods in 2010.
Three times more women than men died as a result of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which struck India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. But why is that?
Because of the region’s rigid gender roles, men were more likely than women to be able to swim. Moreover, during the crucial evacuation period, women were more likely to be caring for children and family members.
Women who survive such environmental tragedies are often stranded in filthy evacuation centres, where they may be subjected to gender-based abuse and lack access to health care. Climate change and environmental tragedies, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are rising violence against women and girls, including domestic harassment, child marriage, and sexual assault.
Many communities are making strides toward gender equality, but environmental tragedies have the potential to halt or even reverse this progress.
If business as normal when it comes to climate action, there’s a risk that the advances in gender equality will be reversed. If climate change accelerates, there’s a chance that gender stereotypes will become more ingrained. More men may be compelled to relocate in search of better work prospects, leaving women to care for extended family members and shoulder household responsibilities. Many that are forced to stay in more disaster-prone or vulnerable areas as a result are more likely to fall into poverty, lose their livelihoods, and develop health problems.
We all know that efforts to reverse environmental degradation and mitigate the threats faced by global warming are doomed to fail if gender discrimination is ignored.
Impact of environmental tragedies on children
Following an environmental tragedy, children might be more vulnerable. They are reliant on caregivers who might be unprepared or overburdened. If very young children are separated from their caregivers, they can be unable to convey vital information. Some children necessitate special attention, feeding, and materials.
Children’s physiology makes them more vulnerable to the health effects than adults. Kids, for example, breathe more oxygen per pound of body weight than adults and have less fluid in their bodies, making them more vulnerable to dehydration. They may also be at a stage of growth where current health issues may have long-term implications. They could have a harder time dealing with emotional pain. For all of these factors, an environmental tragedy could have a very different impact on a child than it does on an adult. Indeed, depending on their age, it can have a variety of effects on children.
Children may be affected by environmental tragedies in a variety of ways. For starters, environmental tragedies hurt people physically. A catastrophe can cause harm to schools and health-care facilities, disrupting education and limiting access to medical care.
Environmental tragedies can wipe out a family’s properties. Children and family members may be hurt or killed, or they may develop illnesses as a result of the environmental tragedy. Families can lose income as a result of employed members of the household losing their jobs due to injury or macroeconomic conditions, or as a result of the death of working members of the household. In many developing-country contexts, a household’s loss of income—combined with the loss of assets and higher disaster-repair costs—could push children into the labour force. Families will also have less money to spend on medical care, food, or school supplies, all of which can have a negative impact on kids. Finally, a tragedy can trigger stress and trauma in children, which is compounded when they see their parents’ stress. For infants, such a situation can lead to mental health issues, which can wreak havoc on their physical health and academic performance. Pregnant women’s foetuses may be affected by stress.
Separation of children from their parents or primary caregivers during or after an environmental tragedy is another source of concern, especially among nongovernmental organisations. These children are at risk of being raped, manipulated, and ignored. Individual characteristics of children, families, cultures, nations, and the disaster itself mediate the disaster’s impact. Different children will react differently to different environmental tragedies depending on their circumstances. Due to socioeconomic factors, local institutions, and political realities that affect disaster response and recovery, the effects on children differ across countries. Even if we see associations between a tragedy and improvements in specific indicators of child welfare, such as time spent in school or health results, all of these factors will make it incredibly difficult to draw direct causal links.
While little research has looked into whether living in a disaster-prone area has any impact on children, some studies have looked into how living in a disaster-prone area affects household income and consumption choices. Households in high-risk areas, for example, may be more likely to grow crops that are low-risk but low-return, such as a drought-tolerant variety with lower yields. Households, on the other hand, can choose to live in riskier areas that provide additional benefits to children, such as proximity to employment or school.
Environmental tragedies can put children in a variety of emotionally distressing situations. Not only is the incident traumatic and terrifying in and of itself, but the disruption to children’s homes and property, relocation, and social network, neighbourhood, and local economy breakdowns can all add to the tension. Click Here to read more on Golf and its Environmental Implications.