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“Famine Marriages” Just One Byproduct of Climate Change

March 13, 2010
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Full Article at: http://www.ips.org/TV/beijing15/famine-marriages-just-one-byproduct-of-climate-change/

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 9 (IPS/TerraViva) – The negative fallout from climate change is having a devastatingly lopsided impact on women compared to men, from higher death rates during natural disasters to heavier household and care burdens.

In the 1991 cyclone disasters that killed 140,000 in Bangladesh, 90 percent of victims were reportedly women; in the 2004 Asian Tsunami, an estimated 70 to 80 percent of overall deaths were women.

And following the 2005 Hurricane Katrina in the United States, African-American women, who were the poorest population in some of the affected States in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, faced the greatest obstacles to survival, according to the New York-based Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO).

The 2007 Human Development Report, issued by the U.N. Development Programme, points out that women are particularly affected by climate change because they are the largest percentage – accounting for about 70 percent – of the poor population.

Amy North, a researcher working on gender, education and global poverty reduction initiatives at the Institute of Education in the University of London, told IPS climate change is also exacerbating existing gender inequalities, with a devastating effect on the quality of life of poor women and girls.

In many parts of the world, women and girls are responsible for collecting water and firewood.

As these resources become scarcer in the face of increasingly erratic rainfall, they must spend more time looking for and collecting them, further reducing the time they have available to engaging in economic activities, or attending school, she said.

Women are also the main producers of food, providing 70 percent of agricultural labour in sub-Saharan Africa, and so are particularly affected by reduced agricultural output, North added.

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In neighbouring Uganda, the food crises associated with climate change have been linked to higher rates of early marriage for girls, as they are exchanged for dowry or bride price.

These “famine marriages” – as they are called – not only lead to girls dropping out of school, but also make them vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections and related reproductive complications

Full Article at: http://www.ips.org/TV/beijing15/famine-marriages-just-one-byproduct-of-climate-change/

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