By Naomi Brodkey, Program Assistant, Global Population and Environment Program
While moms in America are celebrated this Mother’s Day weekend, we should take time to recognize how climate disruption is making mothers' jobs much harder everywhere.
In many parts of the world, women continue to fill traditional roles as mothers and caregivers. They are often the first to rise to collect water and firewood, prepare food, and care for young children, but these already strenuous tasks are becoming ever more daunting due to unanticipated and continued climate disruption. In the 2009 United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) “State of the World Population” publication, Leucadia, a rural Bolivian woman, tells of the dried streams from the Huayna Potosi glacier and the hours she now spends collecting water to prepare food and irrigate crops. For many, securing these resources is not just a struggle, but a fight. At a presentation about his newest book this week in Washington, D.C., author and doctor Paul Farmer quoted a Haitian woman who spoke of her daily struggle for survival as a fight to collect food, wood and water – for her 5 children.
The realities of climate disruption are well documented, as are the disproportionate effects that it has on women. United Nations WomenWatch’s “Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change” states, “The effects of climate change, including drought, uncertain rainfall and deforestation, make it harder to secure … resources. By comparison with men in poor countries, women face historical disadvantages, which include limited access to decision-making and economic assets that compound the challenges of climate change.” The unreliability of resources forces women like Leucadia to wake up even earlier and walk even further from home, spending more time collecting water and fuel – tasks which already comprise about 26 percent of their waking hours – rather than spending time with their children at home.