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Why global warming is a gender issue as much as an environmental one

The effects of global warming are detrimental to everyone, but even more so for women, says Greens MP Dr. Mehreen Faruqi.

And women and children subject to extreme weather conditions are especially vulnerable for multiple reasons.

More: What your kid should know about global warming

For example, parts of rural Australia have experienced drought for decades at a time and, as a result, women have been left with increased workloads and the need to provide moral support to their families, even though there are very few outreach programs which can in turn support them.

In fact, recent studies have found that 50 per cent of women in rural Australia have been forced to take on extra work away from their farms and their families, just to make sure they survive the dry season.

They may take on part-time jobs with little security or benefits, and taking on jobs away from home also means they are separated from their families for prolonged periods of time, relying on expensive childcare as a result.

These off-farm working arrangements also mean that when annual leave comes up, it is frequently used for working on the farm during harvesting times or key production seasons, leaving little time for respite or time to connect with family.

When there’s a crisis, it’s often down to the matriarchs of the family to provide the moral support, but women are being left behind, disempowered and without the knowledge and resources to make a change, reports suggest.

These conditions can make it incredibly difficult for women to maintain relationships with their partners and also develop friendships and support networks with other women in their communities.

More than just being the ones who are taking on the extra workload, women are killed more in natural disasters, too, with Greens MP Dr. Mehreen Faruqi pointing out that 90 per cent of the 150,000 people killed by the Bangladesh cyclone in 1991 were women.

More: Sustainability made simple: Ways to start at home

Here in Australia, it’s actually women more than men who want to see substantial effort made to tackle climate change.

According to the Climate Institute report, more than 70 per cent of women agree that climate change is occurring, compared to 68 per cent of men who believe it isn’t. And 42 per cent of men think that the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated, compared to 29 per cent of women.

Research has also found that women are more likely to use resources for the betterment of families and communities as a whole, suggesting that empowering them to adapt to climate change is a necessary step in combating the effects of global warming — environmentally, socially and economically.

Given how much women stand to lose through global warming and climate change, including in our own backyard, empowering them in their communities should be a goal made by governments alongside reducing emissions and making environmentally conscious policies.

What do you think about the link between global warming and the gender gap? Share your thoughts below.

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