How Health Professionals Can Help to Limit Climate’s Impacts on Women

By path2positive

In the thick of the discussions surrounding the United Nations climate conference, those of us who care about the subjects of health and climate change are passing around articles, retweeting key facts and keeping the general buzz going. Given there's so much "content" out there, we select the overlaps with climate that we feel are the most relevant to our work and we focus on those. What if, though, we thought less about our own interests and worked to highlight only the top climate impacts? What would these be?

According to the New Internationalist article below, women comprise 80% of refugees that have been displaced from climate change around the world. I'd be hard-pressed not to call this a significant climate impact. "Climate change impacts the poor first and worst, and women make up the vast majority of those living on less than a dollar a day, itself a symptom of the obstruction of women’s rights. There are clear systemic links between the climate crisis, our economic model and the ongoing exploitation and disempowerment of women," writes Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International.

As health professionals, the question we can ask ourselves after reading about this astounding "80%" figure, is: How can we do our part in limiting the disproportionate impact that women face from climate change? One approach is clear: we can focus on the connections between health and justice. For starters, take a look at ecoAmerica's report: Achieving a Climate for Health: Philanthropy to Promote Health and Justice through the Challenges of Climate Change.

Women on the Frontlines of Climate Change at COP21 and Beyond

New Internationalist

By Osprey Orielle Lake I December 1, 2015

This week thousands of people are gathering in Paris for the United Nations climate conference, where world governments will work to finalize an international agreement with critical implications for what we, as a species, will experience living on this planet in the years to come. For the health of the earth and all generations, present and future, it is paramount that we seize this moment and recognize that there will be no effective action on climate change until women’s struggles, solutions and leadership are at the forefront.

Women comprise a disturbing 80% of global climate refugees displaced since 2010 as a direct result of climate change. When rivers dry up, when toxic material spills from pipelines – women are impacted with disproportionate severity. In part, this is because women’s bodies are more susceptible to the dangerous effects of contamination. However, the bottom line is that women are more harshly impacted by climate change because they continue to face repressive social norms and limits on their rights, decreasing their mobility, voice and ability to respond to climate disaster.

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