The negative effects of environmental degradation on economies and communities have been studied repeatedly. It is generally agreed upon among researchers today that the deterioration of the environment promotes poverty (Haslam et al. 318). Therefore, the global goal of poverty eradication has been widely associated with improving the environmental conditions. However, it can be argued that some groups of people in the societies affected by the environmental degradation suffer from it much more than others.
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Particularly, women were found to be such a group. The necessity for gender considerations in environmental studies has been pronounced by multiple researchers within recent years. Due to the specific role and functions performed by women in many societies that suffer from environmental degradation, the concept of the “feminization of poverty and environmental degradation” (Glazebrook 762) has been introduced. Climate change experts argue that the research in various areas of climate change should avoid gender-blindness because men and women are often affected unevenly.
The main reason for women to experience more adverse effects of environmental degradation is their household responsibilities. In many societies, women are in charge of meeting the domestic needs of their families, which are often extended families with many people sharing the same dwelling place. Running the household primarily requires bringing water and collecting firewood. The processes of drought, desertification, and deforestation significantly complicate these tasks. All these processes are part of the notion of environmental degradation. For example, there are rural regions in India where women have to walk long distances for five hours every day to find firewood (Haslam et al. 318). The distances they have to travel increase gradually due to the deforestation. Another negative effect of this is that families get to opt for less nutritious food because it requires less cooking, i.e. the quality of nutrition is damaged for whole communities.
A study of women farmers in Ghana showed that the interviewees recognized the negative effects of climate change and emphasized that women are especially affected (Glazebrook 777). The negative effects included the land degradation, the decline in soil quality, and the change of weather patterns. All these factors, which consistently make farming more difficult, had been constantly observed by the studied community within previous years. Women claimed to be particularly impacted due to their traditional role of performing the agricultural activities. Therefore, women farmers stated that gender issues must be taken into consideration by decision-makers when adopting policies and regulations aimed at coping with the adverse effects of environmental degradation.
Glazebrook, Trish. “Women and Climate Change: A Case Study from Northeast Ghana.” Hypatia, vol. 26, no. 4, 2011, pp. 762-782.
Haslam, Paul, et al. Introduction to International Development: Approaches, Actors, and Issues. Oxford University Press, 2012.