Women, Girls more vulnerable to changing Climate Conditions – WHO


The World Health Organisation’s Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti has revealed that women and girls are more at risk of direct and indirect health repercussions from climate change.

Moeti gave the disclosure in her message to mark this year’s International Women’s Day, adding that females living in rural, poor and remote vulnerable areas in low- and middle-income countries, including Small Island Developing States, are more susceptible to changing climatic conditions.

“Due to their gender, they bear a disproportionate burden of the effects of climate change in their social and reproductive roles.

“Potential consequences include infertility, intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight, perinatal mortality, pre-term delivery and associated pregnancy complications”.

In Africa, the increasing incidence of extreme weather conditions means women and girls devote the time that could be better spent on productive ventures catering to the basic needs of their families. This includes the provision of water, food, and fuel for lighting, heating and cooking.

According to Moeti, indirectly, environmental degradation and changing climate patterns increase the risk for the emergence and re-emergence of diseases such as Dengue fever, Chikugunya and the Zika viruses,

In addition, it will also exacerbate the spread of water- and vector-borne diseases such as malaria, cholera all of which disproportionately affect children and women, especially pregnant women.

“Women and girls are also at higher risk for sexual violence, sexual exploitation, abuse, trafficking, and intimate partner violence, along with psychological stress, anxiety and depression in response to displacements as a result of climate change events,” she noted.

To address the challenges, Moeti said gender-responsive action is needed, along with equitable development that recognises and addresses the particular vulnerability of women and girls to the consequences of climate change.

“Women’s organisations must be prioritised to receive the necessary financial and technological support to make a meaningful contribution to addressing the threat, while access to land for women farmers should be assured to build food security and equitable land ownership.

“There is still much work to be done, however, and as we mark International Women’s Day this year, I urge all stakeholders, from governments and partners to civil society and ordinary citizens, to support country-driven and gender-sensitive approaches to mitigating the impacts of climate change, especially on our vulnerable women and girls.

“Let us all remember that overcoming these inequities will result in better health, development and prosperity for all,” she said.

Moeti added that it is also important to harness the power of women to effect change at the community level and in the development of policy instruments and national climate response plans.

Abisola Adebayo is a Reporter/Presenter/Social Media Manager for Tv360Nigeria. She is a first class graduate of the department of Mass Communication at Fountain University, Osogbo. Abisola is currently running her Masters Degree at the University of Lagos. The Social Media savvy young lady is ambitious and driven, likes trying new things and sets new goals for herself. Always looking for an opportunity to do better and achieve greatness.

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