It isn't difficult to list the consequences of climate change. Poor air quality, extinction of species of animals, hurricanes, droughts, and bush fires are just a few of the swathes of environmental impacts of climate change. However, much like everything else, climate breakdown does not exist in a vacuum. Perhaps, then, it is not a surprise that a long-standing social issue - violence against women - is exacerbated by this pervasive, worldwide phenomenon.
Studies have found that in areas where environmental pressures increase, gender-based violence also rises. The degradation of nature and increased stress on eco-systems leads to increased competition for resources, which has been closely linked to not only violence against women, but also the exploitation of women and girls. Where climate change has rendered natural resources scarce, women are at greater risk of facing physical dangers to their safety.
Worryingly, a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature also found that the rates of human trafficking rise in areas where the natural environment is under stress. Those who are already vulnerable due to their gender, poverty level, or nationality see the risks they face increase exponentially due to the impacts of climate change.
However, the link between climate breakdown and gender-based violence is not a simple case of cause and effect. Cases of violence against and exploitation of women hamper efforts to negate or minimize the causes of this global crisis. Attempts to repair environmental degradation are failing because they do not take gender inequality into account.
Violence against women and the effects of climate change are two challenges that must be considered simultaneously, as they are so intricately wound together that neither will be able to be tackled if the other is ignored or sidelined. All too often, we fail to look at important issues intersectionally and, in doing so, we reduce our chances of being able to tackle them effectively.
Owren found abundant examples of the close links between gender-based violence and the exploitation of women and girls, and the competition for resources engendered by the impacts of global heating and our destruction of the natural environment.