Climate Change Exacerbates Violence against Women and Girls

Young women standing together holding signs about climate change. The central sign reads "Our Planet Our Future," and only their necks and below are visible. Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

The United Nations explains the deep-rooted links between the climate crisis and gender-based violence. Around eighty percent of people displaced by climate change are women. Displaced women are violently assaulted more often, including sexually. Violent men often attack when women are seeking emergency shelter, in tents and in camps. Women are subject to violence even at the hands of those authorities who are supposed to protect them.

The climate crisis also affects rural women and farm workers. Climate change makes access to water more difficult, requiring women to travel further and thus increasing their vulnerability to violent assaults.

Women activists who fight for human rights and environmental justice are often in even greater danger of sexual violence, especially when (male) attackers seek to assert power and control over women who refuse to stay in their place.

This article also offers policy proposals, such as providing women with alternative means of livelihood and holding perpetrators accountable.

“While they sleep, wash, bathe or dress in emergency shelters, tents or camps, the risk of sexual violence is a tragic reality of their lives as migrants or refugees. Compounding this is the increased danger of human trafficking, and child, early and forced marriage which women and girls on the move endure.”