Include women in our climate change fight.

Byline: Maryam Inam

There is no denying that climate change is affecting everyone on the planet- disproportionately, but everyone, either directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, marginalized communities, particularly women, endure the worst of the impacts.

Even in today's modernized world, gender inequalities exist almost everywhere around the world. Pakistan is no exception to this global norm; the Global Gender Gap Index of 2018 ranks Pakistan at 148 out of 149, which is alarming and equally shameful. Gender inequality not only denies women of their voices and devalues their work but also makes their position lower to men at all levels- from a household, national to global. This disparity, along with degrading the status of women affects their ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Most women, particularly those in the rural parts of Pakistan, have lower socioeconomic status. They lack education, economic resources, information, and freedom of choices. They are mainly involved in primary sectors such as livestock and agriculture and spend most of their days working for free for their household income or on minimum wages, often far below the national average. They also work as unpaid caregivers and providers of food and fuel. According to research, women carry out 2.5 times the amount of unpaid care work that men do, which globally accounts for USD$10 trillion a year. Women, due to their role in the society and dependence of natural resources are therefore far more exposed to the impacts of climate change. According to UNDP, women are 14 times more likely to die during a natural disaster. Women are also recognized as being poorer than men due to several socioeconomic, political, and cultural factors, and as a result, 70 percent of the world poor are women. Lack of economic empowerment prevents Pakistan women from adapting to the impacts of climate change, making climate resilience almost an impossible option for them.

Women are the most untapped assets when it comes to dealing with climate change in Pakistan. Unfortunately, we do not realize the potential Pakistani women can play, particularly in climate change adaptation. They have indigenous knowledge due to their daily exposure with natural resources and have a better understanding of their surroundings and what practical solutions are needed for adapting to the changing environment. Many examples exist in disaster-prone areas particularly in rural Punjab and Sindh, where...

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