Climate change disproportionally affects women — World Bank

GOVERNMENTS need to adjust policy to account for the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls, the World Bank said.

“There is growing evidence that climate change has a gendered impact, with women and girls disproportionately affected by extreme weather events and other climate-related phenomena. Understanding these impacts is essential if we are to design policies that are effective, equitable, and sustainable,” the World Bank said in a study.

“In many parts of the world, girls and women are more likely to be discriminated against from an early age, leading to reduced opportunities for education and employment. Women are more likely to withdraw from agricultural work and struggle to find alternative sources of income after weather shocks,” it said.

“Boys may also be taken out of school to work, while men may be forced to migrate in search of new employment opportunities. These social responses to weather shocks could ultimately result in widening the gender gaps,” it added.

In the Philippines, heat, typhoons, and rainfall were deemed likely to increase male outmigration relative to women.

The World Bank said that girls and women are “particularly vulnerable” to the social responses triggered by weather shocks.

“For example, droughts can result in reduced resources that can lead to sex-selective abortions, malnutrition, and neglect of girls due to son preference. Thus, weather shocks have been associated with girls’ higher mortality,” it added.

The study found that in the Philippines, child mortality due to typhoons a year after the disaster tends to be concentrated among girls and families with numerous children.

“Mortality rates are highest in households where infant daughters face competition for resources, particularly if siblings are boys,” it added.

The report also evaluated the impact of extreme weather events on education.

It cited Typhoon Mike in the Philippines, which had “a greater impact on girls’ highest-grade completion 2 and 4 years after the disaster, but the impact was similar to boys’ 12 and 15 years after.”

The World Bank said there is a need to design policies that have a “better understanding of the social mechanisms through which men and women are affected.”

“This requires investment in research that looks at the intersection of climate change, gender, and social inequality. It also requires policies that are designed with a gender perspective, taking into account the unique challenges faced by men and women in different contexts,” it said.

“For this, there is a critical need for improved collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated data. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, pervasive gaps in sex-disaggregated data caused knowledge of the gender impacts of the pandemic to be incomplete,” it added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson