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Women are disproportionately affected by the ongoing climate crisis, as they directly manage natural resources in most communities through activities such as water harvesting and food production, making it essential to consider all factors. areas of environmental research with a gender perspective, say scientists. “As climate change continues to make water sources volatile and scarce, women and marginalized groups are most at risk of losing due to their position in water dynamics,” said Martina Angela Caretta, geographer feminist and lecturer at Lund University in Sweden. PTI .

Caretta, who is the lead author of the coordination of the chapter on “water” for the 2nd working group of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said women are particularly affected because of their exclusion from decision-making roles in water management and irrigation.

Women are disproportionately affected by the ongoing climate crisis, as they directly manage natural resources in most communities through activities such as water harvesting and food production, making it essential to consider all factors. areas of environmental research with a gender perspective, say scientists.

“As climate change continues to make water sources volatile and scarce, women and marginalized groups are most at risk of losing due to their position in water dynamics,” said Martina Angela Caretta, geographer feminist and lecturer at Lund University in Sweden. PTI .

Caretta, who is the lead author of the coordination of the chapter on “water” for the 2nd working group of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said women are particularly affected because of their exclusion from decision-making roles in water management and irrigation.

“Water as a means of agricultural production is dominated by men through hydro-patriarchy, which means that the subordination of women in male-dominated societies and communities is reflected in the water sector. She said.

“This unequal access manifests itself in the act of fetching water, in which the distances traveled for water will increase, the health conditions of women will deteriorate and they will become more dependent on men for their income,” he said. explained the feminist geographer.

Debra Roberts, Head of the Sustainable and Resilient Cities Initiatives Unit at eThekwini Municipality in Durban, South Africa, agrees.

According to Roberts, young girls and women are deprived of social status in many cases – from not learning to swim, to their lack of access to educational opportunities – limiting their adaptive capacity amid the climate crisis. .

Women are also disproportionately affected by environmental degradation from industrial mining operations around the world.

Citing her previous research with Sofia Zaragocin at the Universidad de San Francisco in Ecuador, Caretta said large-scale water extraction for mining in South America is linked to land dispossession, contamination and an increase in gender-based violence. that directly affect women. “

“In particular, indigenous women are affected by these impacts on water because they are built as custodians of culture and natural resources, in addition to being mothers,” she explained.

In order to challenge these inequalities, the climatologist affirmed that it is essential to strengthen and recognize the active and continuous organization that Latin American women make against these extractive industries.

Caretta said the lived experiences of women in these communities need to be incorporated into decision-making processes, “whether it’s city council meetings or World Bank reports.”

Roberts agrees, adding that it is essential for scientists to understand the people and social systems that use their findings.

“That is why an understanding of politics and history should be a prerequisite for anyone working in the applied sciences. This understanding of the relationship between science and society has stayed with me and informed my subsequent career in climate change science, ”said Roberts PTI .

“How to break the hierarchy of power and how to build equity? How can all adaptation and mitigation projects, sustainable development projects break gender blindness? These are questions that need to be addressed in climate change research, according to Professor Joyashree Roy of the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.

Caretta added that researchers need to be more aware of their privileges and the unequal power dynamics between their research participants “in the field” and themselves.

“I may be biased, but I believe that all geographers should be feminist geographers. By adding a layer of research into the lived experience and subjectivities of humans, we can better understand and inform environmental interactions, ”she explained.

One way to overcome the uneven effects of the climate crisis would be to get more women scientists to study its effects, Roy believes.

“Women currently make up less than 30% of researchers worldwide and recent studies have shown that women in STEM fields publish less, are paid less for their research, and do not progress as far as men in their careers.” , she said. PTI .

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to these problems, according to Caretta.

“The pandemic has dramatically turned the tide of gender equality. During the pandemic, male academics have taken advantage of working from home to produce article after article for publication, while female scientists bear the double burden of housework and professional work, ”the Lund University professor added.

Roy hopes for better progress in the future.

“The IPCC is making rapid progress in breaking this stereotype and trying multiple ways to get the best scientists to improve this balance,” she said.

“Discussions on climate change must be part of our daily discussions if we, as humanity, are to avoid the worst impact. The case of the gender divide is similar, ”added Roy.

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