Chapter 3: Gender, health and climate change
With growing evidence not only that climate change is happening but also that it brings with it a number of significant threats to health, it is critical that we explore the gendered dimensions of such change. This chapter outlines the evidence on how climate change impacts on the health of women and men, and the significance of these impacts for policy-makers. Patterns of mortality and morbidity in the most affected parts of the world have already started to reveal the burden of climate change for women and men, particularly among the most impoverished populations. The growing frequency of extreme weather events including flooding and heat waves, together with changing seasonal patterns, temperatures and rainfall, all have consequences for the determinants of health, such as food production, pricing and scarcity; water availability and quality; changing vectors of disease and the risk of accidental injury and death. The implications for many of lost livelihoods, lost land and decreasing agricultural yield add further risks, from displacement and enforced migration for example. These effects are not ‘gender neutral’, but impact differently on women and men across the life course reflecting both gender-linked factors such as access to economic resources, access to health care, employment and caring responsibilities, and biological influences on health, including reproductive health in particular. It is vital that policies which seek to mitigate climate change as well as those which aim to help populations adapt to the consequences of these changes are gender mainstreamed, in order to address the various ways in which health risks and burdens are experienced by both men and by women.
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