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Women face disproportionate burden of climate change ramifications — experts

By Maria Weldali - Aug 24,2022 - Last updated at Aug 24,2022

AMMAN — Climate change has disparately affected Jordanian women due to their primary role as caregivers, according to experts.

“Climate change increases the time and effort women put into family care work, which translates into increased gender inequality,” sociologist Hussein Khozahe, told The Jordan Times.

When people talk about the impact of climate change, they must take into consideration how women face greater burdens due to traditional domestic roles, childcare responsibilities and social norms, Khozahe said.

“Women are the ones who keep track of the diverse needs of their family members, and take leadership roles in the fight against climate change, seeking to alter their families’ collective behaviour,” he added.

The changes in climate are affecting both people’s daily lives and decision making. When those things happen, women are responsible for helping their family members adjust to a changing situation, according to Khozahe.

Women tend to care more about climate-related issues and environmental degradation, which makes them able to be agents of change that can help develop sustainable coping mechanisms for climate change ramifications, according to Baraa Ahmad, a Jordanian environmentalist.

“We have always taken on different roles and responsibilities, that is just our nature,” said Ahmad, who noted that the effects of the changing climate are things women must live with every day.

When most people think of climate change, they often believe that it does not affect their daily lives —potentially because they are still unaware of its consequences — but the situation is quite the contrary, added Ahmad. 

Ahmad noted that a heat wave increases household work for women, particularly mothers, as they try to cool their houses and at the same time deliver relief to their family members.

Considering the effects of climate change through a medical lens, Jordanian pharmacist Mai Ali told The Jordan Times that environmental hazards caused by the changing climate have affected many families and particularly their children, which can be observed through longer allergy seasons, and increased health issues.

She added that rising temperatures increase allergens and create favourable conditions for other illnesses, all of which require increased care and attention from the mother.

“Most of the time if not always, mothers take their kids to the doctor, they buy the medicine, and they care for their sick child,” she said.

According to the UN website, “Gender inequality coupled with the climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

Climate change poses a threat to livelihoods, health, safety and security for women and girls around the world, it added. Women bear a disproportionate responsibility to secure food and water due to being confined to certain societal roles and unpaid labour, said the UN website.

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