What is the impact of climate change and debt on gender equality and women's rights?
In the case of gender justice, women and children are disproportionately impacted by climate change as well as by austerity measures that usually follow a debt crisis. Women are often responsible for gathering and producing food, collecting water and sourcing fuel for heating and cooking, which is affected both by climate extreme events and by elimination or reduction of food or energy subsidies because of high debt levels. Their access to gender specific health services is also increasingly compromised both by the impacts of climate extreme events and cuts in public services to repay sovereign debts. Climate disasters also aggravate women’s unpaid care and domestic work in their homes and communities, in the same way that debt does. In addition, women face a heightened risk of gender-based violence during and following disasters, while fiscal consolidation to bring debt levels down usually affects public services for gender violence survivors.
Women are simultaneously the most adversely impacted by climate change and environmental degradation, and yet are indispensable actors and leaders of just and effective solutions.
Cumulative impacts of climate and debt crises on women’s rights and gender justice
Source: Iolanda Fresnillo Sallan (2020) Debt and climate: entangled emergencies derailing women’s rights and gender justice, Gender & Development, 28:3, 499-513
Women’s leadership in decision-making around climate and environmental policies, as well as in financial and debt policies is critical. Yet women are still under-represented in climate and economic policy development, decision making and implementation, especially indigenous women and the transgender community.
Beyond the cumulative impact on women’s rights and gender justice, debt and climate vulnerabilities also have impacts on migration flows, and human rights protection.