Impact of climate change on women

  • mariam devidze

Women living in Georgia realize that climate change has a significant impact on their lives. However, urban and rural women perceive and experience the impacts of climate change differently.

Climate change poses additional challenges for women involved in agricultural activities. “If we look at climate change and the role of women, the more intense climate change becomes, the more the burden on women will increase. For example, if we take vegetable gardening, the higher the temperature, the more water is needed. 99% of small farms are cultivated by women, men are less involved”, says a woman from Zugdidi.

Consequently, climate change makes the health and economic situation of women involved in agriculture even more vulnerable, given that this activity is mainly carried out by women who do not have stable incomes and whose economic situation is not favorable.

Women talk about decreasing security levels and increasing stress levels. Disasters damage their homes, infrastructure, agricultural lands, cultural heritage sites, pastures, and other structures. These traumatic experiences last for a long time.

“In 2012, a big storm broke out in Telavi. I had a three-year-old child. When the water came into the house, only the closet was dry. I put the children in the closet to save them. After that I am very afraid, my son got a false croup and we spent the whole year in the hospital. Now he is big and feels good, but he is still afraid of wind and rain”, says a woman from Telavi.

Women are especially afraid of hail, the intensity and duration of which has increased, as well as forest fires. They are worried that forest restoration is a long process and that the state does not have a proper fire prevention system.

In Svaneti, the Latali community has a special bell that is used to warn people in case of fire. “We help each other a lot, we know how to ring the bell. The bell is a sign that everyone must come out, male or female, old or young. We fight the fire with our own hands until the arrival of the fire department and helicopter. We have one church bell and another alarm bell, it has a different sound, and everyone knows that it should come out at that time”, says a woman from Mestia.

It turns out that during disasters, women expect help mainly from family members or neighbors. Very few of these are linked to emergency management services or local government officials, indicating the need for stronger disaster response systems. In addition, women express dissatisfaction with the lack of early disaster notification practices.

Climate change also has a strong negative impact on women with disabilities, as women using wheelchairs may have impaired thermoregulation, rheumatic problems, and difficulty withstanding high temperatures and heat waves. “According to my personal experience, it is very difficult for me to be outside in the summer. Because I can’t move my legs and my thermoregulation is disturbed, my body is hot and my feet can be frozen, summer is worse for me”, says a woman with a disability.

According to women, frequent weather changes increase blood pressure, so sometimes their body reacts to weather changes in advance, and they feel it. Women with chronic diseases say that in many cases they cannot cope with the body’s reaction to weather changes even with medication. Overall, climate change increases these women’s dependence on medical care. In addition, the deterioration of air quality as a result of climate change further worsens the living environment and health of allergy-prone women.

Therefore, it is necessary for the state to take effective and strategic steps to reduce the impact of climate change. The local government should activate and promote cooperation among such vulnerable groups of the population, which are particularly negatively affected by climate change. It is also important to spread information about climate change management with the participation of civil society, media, initiative groups, and national and local self-government representatives.