RETRIEVED FROM THE WORLD TOMORROW – Belgian weekly
Climate sexism: how the ecological crisis and the oppression of women go hand in hand.
Thursday, October 1, 2020
Translated from Dutch to English by Gino d'Artali
Journalist: Keesha Orts
Before you read this article be
aware that the FTP programm I am using messes up with the quoting marks
i.e. " " see and as an inbetween solution I use < is opening quote and >
is closing quote. I am very sorry and apologize for the inconvenience.
Gender is an
important aspect that is often overlooked in the climate debate. Several
reasons why women are at higher risk and feel the effects harder are
mainly due to cultural gender roles. The phenomenon thus has a long
history of social inequality and is non-biologically determined. This
means that women are presented with certain roles, demands, expectations
and tasks in our society that places them in a 'weaker' or more
vulnerable position. Scientific studies prove that a changed climate
affects them worldwide on a different level than men.
show that during storms, floods or cyclones (which are predicted to be
more common in the future), they are affected differently because they
often tend to be home more often than men. Women worldwide are now more
responsible for housekeeping and often practice tasks indoors, meaning
they have less access to protection, help or information when an
emergency arises. Second, it has been shown that in many countries they
are less likely to own a driver's license or own vehicle, which further
hinders their mobility. In addition, there are several other cultural
and social expectations such as dress standards, skills or education
that can cause problems.
Incidentally, according to the World Health Organization, a changed climate will also mean an increase in diseases and health problems (such as asthma, cancer, lung diseases, trauma, etc.) due to rising temperatures, poor air quality or floods. Taking all the aforementioned facts into account, women are thus more vulnerable, although they normally have a higher life expectancy. In many places they also often have less access to healthcare. They also experience more problems with, for example, a rising temperature, research shows that pregnant women in The Gambia attract more mosquitoes (which in turn can cause diseases) through their body heat, their breath and other behavior that attracts mosquitoes (such as more often at night). getting up to urinate).
Finally, women worldwide are less involved and accepted in policy making or politics. This is because patriarchy and androcentrism lead to male dominance in areas such as science, technology and politics and give power mainly to men. We live in a masculine, Western, Eurocentric-dominated system of relationships, values, authority and privilege from which women and minority groups are mainly excluded. This idea is normalized and institutionalized today, as well as embodied in everyday life, leaving this dominance unquestioned. We assume that women have little interest in these areas, are not 'qualified' and that men are better leaders, without realizing that these areas are simply inaccessible. 
As a result, they
become less involved in the search for solutions and in negotiating the
problem because they are excluded in these fields, which are often seen
as the solution. They are generally not sufficiently or equally
represented both nationally and internationally in the United Nations
and the European Parliament and are therefore under-represented in terms
of politics and policy. Women are rarely the head of a political party
and therefore have fewer chances of being future leaders. Most countries
have never had a woman at their head. In the European Parliament, for
example, 65 percent are white and male, and when we look at mayors we
see that 85 percent are male.
Women as a certain
subgroup of the population dominates and has power in this, solutions
and policies are usually also based on their perspectives, needs and
visions. How climate change issues are addressed are thus 'gendered' and
in favor of those in power. As a result, half of the population will be
left out of decision-making and will be similarly excluded from the
solutions, while minority groups such as women often have crucial
knowledge, insights and perspectives in combating the problem. This is
not only fundamentally unjust, but it also means that the gender effects
of climate change are not receiving sufficient attention.
System change, not
Sexime and the
ecological crisis are the result of a hierarchy and system of
discernment that exists in our society. In terms of gender, we can say
that men are seen as the 'stronger' sex and women as second-class
citizens, inferior. The fact that women still earn less, hold fewer
senior positions, face discrimination and harassment on a daily basis
and thus have fewer rights in most societies still makes this inequality
We can say that it
is a Western thought system that was also imposed through colonialism in
other countries, because the distinctions we make are certainly not
universal. Different forms of oppression and discrimination, such as
racism, white privilege, homophobia and climate, go together, which
means that fighting one is also necessary to combat the other. That they
are all judged by the same system of dominance makes it clear that there
is a need for systematic change. Rather than the privileges of a few in
the status quo, they all demand justice and equality demanding a change
in the thinking and organization of our society.
Thus, while they
are usually presented as victims or without choice in the debate, they
are in fact actively involved in the struggle and resistance to the
planet's decline. Taking into account that women are not a homogeneous
group and these findings differ from place to place, gender constructs
often force women into the same positions around the world.
In addition, it
has been shown that men and women clearly have different attitudes and
opinions about the climate. For example, a study in a tiger reserve in
India showed that women support conservation more than men, often
because they themselves get more out of it when there is more
protection. We also see that where the impact is uneven, women actually
contribute slightly less to the problem: studies show that they often
have a smaller footprint due to differences in consumption, behavior and
In addition, we
also see a link between masculinity and climate "skepticism" or denial,
while women are more likely to accept science.  In addition, men are
also more likely to put responsibility on technology and science, while
studies show that women are more likely to take the role on themselves.
Keesha Orts is a female student of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the KU Leuven (B).
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