United Nations warns about consequences for women and girls due to climate change

Women all over the world have a higher risk of experiencing violence and other consequences due to climate change. This states a report from the United Nations published on Wednesday the 5th of October. The violence is presented on many different levels and affects both young girls and women. For example, in some countries, young girls need to drop out of school in order to work and provide food, which can also result in child marriages.

The consequences of climate change, such as economic problems, loss of basic necessities, and food uncertainty, cause stress and can result in certain decision-making whereby girls and women are victims, both psychologically and physically.

Consequences on a broad scale
Violence against women is reported both psychologically and physically.

After a natural disaster, safety structures and law enforcement are lacking. This enhances the chance of women being sexually assaulted or being a victim of trafficking into, for example, domestic labor.

The report explains how women have a higher chance of being sexually exploited in exchange for basic necessities such as food, fuel, and water.

Emergency shelters can make women feel depressed and anxious

Water insufficiency in general means women and girls have to go longer distances into areas that are unknown to them, without a guardian by their side. This can result in sexual threats from men toward women and an increased risk of being raped.

Emergency shelters on the other hand can make women feel depressed and have feelings of anxiety. Reduced privacy, a lack of personal space, and a general unsafe feeling tend to push women to a breaking point.

Over the past decades, many natural disasters have already occurred. Click on the green dots in the map to read more about the consequences for women and girls linked to three natural disasters.

Women are often not a part of the policy-making processes regarding climate change, the report explains.

One of the many recommendations reported is in regard to that, as so to ensure ‘the full, equal, effective and meaningful participation of women into policy-making processes’.

Next to this, other guidelines and propositions are made for countries all over the world to consider. Continuing the fight against gender-based violence, collecting qualitative data on violence against women, and ensuring they have a proper social security system to rely on, are just a few.

If you or someone you know is a victim of (domestic) violence, please reach out. A relevant phone number for your country can be found on this website.

Text: Marlies Geyskens
Photo: Ivan Radic (CC by 2.0)