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Gender And Climate Change- What Young Women Need To Know And Act Upon – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

Gender and Climate Change- What Young Women Need to Know

Session Report
Reetwika Mallick

The Gender Impact Studies Center, at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a Two-Month Online National Winter School Program on ‘Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship’ from January 6th, 2024 to March 8th 2024.

The course, spread over two months, provided a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into public policy. The course led by esteemed experts, empowered young women to be effective leaders. Through a combination of engaging lectures, interactive workshops, networking, guidance by thematic experts and practical exercises.

On day 8 of the Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship, Ms. Seema Kulkarni, Founding Member, Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM), Pune outlined the ways in which environmental change is impacting women in general and young women in particular and enumerated the actions can be taken in order to amend the discriminations.

Explaining Climate Change-

Ms. Kulkarni embarked the session with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) definition of climate change as ‘a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g. using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer’. In order to save the planet, IPCC’s report mentions that by 2050 net carbon dioxide emissions needs to be zero.

Ms. Kulkarni in the session discussed the disastrous consequences of climate change like- glacier melting, increased occurrences of storms and tornadoes, etc. Climate change, according to Ms. Kulkarni can be attributed to the increased greenhouse gas emissions due to several human activity including industries. Agriculture, as Ms. Kulkarni highlighted both gets impacted by climate change as well as causes climate change. The present agricultural model of using chemical fertilizers, genetic modification and high yield variety seeds is leading to rapid changes in climate. Agriculture in turn gets affected by change of climate by erratic rainfalls, droughts and increased temperature resulting in less produce and increasing economic stress.

Impact on Young girls and Women of Climate Change-

The impacts of changing climate on young girls and women are multifaceted and can be categorised as- social, economic, health among many dimensions, as outlined by Ms. Kulkarni. The burden on women increases whether there are incidences of droughts, floods or uncertain food supply. Since, there is the patriarchal notion in society whereby women are made responsible for looking after family’s basic survival needs, in extreme situations, work women increase.

Ms. Kulkarni, an expert in the sector, delineated using several interviews of women, how the uncertainty of eco-system changes makes the goals of the outreach programmes of government redundant. Women across diverse social groups are being affected- young girls have to leave school in order to arrange for the basic daily requirements. Thereby taking the women’s development several years back.

Taking the session forward, Ms. Kulkarni enumerated the health impacts on women due to increase of domestic burden and rise in temperature. Since, majority of women work in agricultural fields as labourers, high temperatures make it difficult for them to work for long hours in the open. Reproductive health also gets affected due to increased burden on women of domestic works due to climate change.

Discussing Social impacts on women due to climate change, Ms. Kulkarni delineated the challenge of loss of childhood of young women, especially in drought affected regions. Out-migration of males to cities in search for work forces the women of the household to go to fields to earn living, thereby transferring all the domestic responsibilities on the young women. Apart from this, young girls are married off early due to security concerns by the migrating agriculture labour families.

Ms. Kulkarni, highlighting the actions needs to be taken by young women to mitigate climate change and tis affects, needs to have both macro and micro level approach. The intersection of caste, gender, economic background cannot be ignored while designing climate change resilient activities. Ms. Kulkarni underlined the need to protect, prepare and prioritise young women in combating changing climate.

Concluding the session, Ms. Kulkarni highlighted the necessity to consider women’s knowledge for developing climate change resilient practices.

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