Women at receiving end of #climate change | The Asian Age

Although women are admittedly bearing the brunt of climate change, India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) has remained gender-blind and does not focus on gender issues.
Aditi Kapoor’s report Engendering the Climate for Change — Policies and Practices for Gender-Just Adaptation highlights that the four adaptation-focused missions remain largely techno-managerial in their orientation without focusing on how many women, than men, are engaged in growing vegetables, tea, coffee, paddy, livestock-rearing, fish processing and gathering medicinal herbs and fuel wood.


The report quotes from the findings of the latest Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA), stating that the increasing number of hot days and the decreasing number of cold days (during the pre-monsoon season over a period 1970-2005) had resulted in a decline in the spring snow cover of the western Himalayas. This changing climate, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, confirmed was adversely affecting dairy milk production and also resulting in a decline in fish breeding.


India was presently losing 1.6 million tonnes of milk production to climatic stresses in different parts of the country.


Further, up to 77 per cent of the forest areas are expected to shift affecting both biodiversity and livelihoods based on these forests. This would affect forest vegetation on whose products tribal women were dependent. Presently, these women were using almost 300 forest species for medicinal purposes and a shift in forest vegetation will adversely affect their livelihoods and health.


Working in the fields, women already have climate-related data but this data is not being analysed scientifically, Ms Kapoor maintained regretting that climate research interventions are male-biased.
She has quoted several examples to illustrate this point. High-yielding saline-resistant paddy varieties promoted by the government do not meet women requirements complained, Rita from village Chak-Pitambarpur, block Basanti, 24 South Parganas in West Bengal.


The reason for this Rita said was that “high yielding varieties were small in height and gave little residue whereas that was not the case with traditional paddy varieties whose longer stalks gave them extra bio-fuel.”


Women testimonies reveal that rising sea levels left them with less space on the beach for post-harvest activity including fish-processing. Fall in fish production was forcing them to search for other livelihood options.

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