There is a body of research that clearly illustrates the intersection between climate change, livelihoods, and gender-based violence.
Climate change and gender. What’s the relation?
The impacts of climate change are already being experienced by each person around the world. The experience of hardships such as lower earnings and food insecurity varies, like most things, for different gender groups.
The effects of climate change can create circumstances where inequalities associated with socially constructed gender roles can be made worse. This is a wide and complex topic - this short article will focus on research illustrating how the impacts of climate change specifically can exacerbate the risk of violence against women.
Violence against women and long-term effects of climate change
Changing weather patterns, heavier rainfalls, prolonged droughts, higher temperatures, increased crop failure, livestock loss and increasing food insecurity can be particularly strenuous for rural agricultural communities across the world.
Research by the United Nations Development Program conducted a study on two rural communities in Uganda in 2019 that had been affected by climate change. In terms of increase violence against women, the following was found.
Violence against women after extreme weather events
Extreme weather events often mean people must evacuate their home areas, sometimes for long periods of time. However, decision-making regarding when and where to evacuate sometimes excludes women, with a direct bearing on women’s safety during and after a disaster. Often shelters may lack facilities for women and/or place them at risk for assault. Instances where violence against women has been recorded to increase after extreme weather events in Bangladesh and Vietnam.
In the Global North research is also showing increases in gender-based violence after disasters. For example, a study examining domestic violence after Hurricane Katrina in the US, found psychological abuse of women increased by 35%, and 17% for men in the six months after the storm. Physical abuse of women increased by 98% in the same period. Studies have shown similar instances after floods in the US and New Zealand, and after bushfires in Australia (which linked the increase in violence to the burdens placed on men by traditional masculinities in the face of loss of livelihoods).
What can be done?
Two pieces of research this article utilised, and we recommend reading for further detail and analysis.