Why Climate Change is a feminist issue

Loura Al Alanezi is a Politics (BA) student. She is from Kuwait, and she reports on the topics of poverty, mobility, security and conflict. Her hobbies include reading books and painting.

Climate change is a current concern in communities around the world. It’s no longer a concern about the future. Concerns about access to clean water are widespread, and this lack is very much happening now. Climate change has also increased the vulnerability of rural communities; lack of access to water, especially clean water, has been difficult for these communities, who have to travel long distances, sometimes over dangerous terrains, to obtain water for their daily necessities. This has also become an issue about women’s rights as women have been burdened to conduct the difficult chore of obtaining water, which can result in severe economic and health harms toward women and the household.

According to the United Nations, access to clean water is a basic human right. In most countries, basic water can be found more frequently in urban areas than in rural areas, but the rate of inequality differs.  22% of the world population had inadequate hand washing facilities that had little to no water and soap at the time of the survey. 18% of world population had no access to handwashing facility at all. These statistics identify the severe issues caused by the lack of distribution of water; in the times that we are living in now, i.e. with the pandemic, hand washing is more important than ever as it plays a crucial role in curbing the spread of the virus or other diseases. 

As mentioned earlier, women, especially those who live in rural areas, usually collect their household’s water. This might be in the form of getting water from a well, where there would often be a long queue. They may be required to walk long routes to collect water, which, together with the buckets of water they have to carry on their journey back home, can be extremely draining. There is also a possibility that they may be required to pay a certain amount of money- the specific amount depending upon their geographical location- to obtain water, as higher authorities might see it as an opportunity to exploit and extort money, placing a further burden to the area’s economic situation.

Due to the time-consuming and tiring chore of carrying water back and forth, women often do not have enough time for work and education. Indeed, taking care of other household chores alone might already be a challenge in these circumstances. Women usually face the dilemma of either having no access to water or risk the possibility of death due to unsanitary water, infected with bacteria and germs that might contribute to a series of illnesses. Access to safe water is important for all individuals, especially the young and the elderly as their immune systems might not be adequate in combating the potential hazards and dangers that unsanitary water might bring. The trip of walking to gather water and carrying heavy containers of water can affect pregnant women’s health; consuming unsanitary water might harm the mother and her baby’s health respectively. Thus, safe water is of the utmost importance to maintain a healthy pregnancy and ensure the baby’s health is not affected.

As individuals who do not have to face the constant worry of losing supply to clean water, we should be actively trying to bridge inequalities and provide safe water to communities. Though this is most explicitly a health issue, it is also allowing communities to further oppress the women, who often are unaware of the position they are in due or are unable to resist due to the potentially disastrous consequences that could follow. You can donate to Water Aid, that provides clean water and toilets to communities around the world. The British Red Cross  is another platform that is for the fund that helps people who are affected by climate change.

Bibliography

1.https://www.charitywater.org/uk/whywater

2.https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/wps/2019/09/17/how-feminist-research-will-help-solve-the-climate-crisis/

3.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211464518303397

4.https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/sustainable-living/climate-change-gender-equality-feminism-b1816507.html

5.https://unfccc.int/gender

6.https://water.org/our-impact/water-crisis/womens-crisis/

7.https://d26p6gt0m19hor.cloudfront.net/whywater/jmp-2019-wash-households.pdf

[Feature image sourced from The Independent]

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