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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 128-129  

Global climate change and issues related to women's health: A generalised debate

Department of Community Medicine, Smt. Kashibai Navale Medical College, Narhe, Pune - 411 041, India

Date of Web Publication26-Dec-2011

Correspondence Address:
Harshal T Pandve
Department of Community Medicine, Smt. Kashibai Navale Medical College, Narhe, Pune - 411 041
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2229-516X.91165

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How to cite this article:
Pandve HT. Global climate change and issues related to women's health: A generalised debate. Int J App Basic Med Res 2011;1:128-9

How to cite this URL:
Pandve HT. Global climate change and issues related to women's health: A generalised debate. Int J App Basic Med Res [serial online] 2011 [cited 2022 Jan 20];1:128-9. Available from: https://www.ijabmr.org/text.asp?2011/1/2/128/91165


Climate change is one of the most critical global challenges of our times. The impacts of climate change range from agricultural damage, further endangering food security, to sea-level rise and the accelerated erosion of coastal zones increasing the intensity of natural disasters, species extinction, and spread of vector-borne diseases. [1] Climate change contributes to the global burden of disease also, and this is expected to grow in the future. [2] The impacts of climate change on human health will not be evenly distributed around the world; the vulnerability of a population will depend on factors such as pre-existing health status, quality and availability of public healthcare, local environmental conditions, and other socio-economic factors. [3]

There may be gender variations in the response to illness, and response of the society may have gender-bias. Women sweat less, [4] have a higher metabolic rate, and have thicker subcutaneous fat that prevents them from cooling themselves as efficiently as men. Women are therefore less able to tolerate heat stress. Shapiro et al. studied gender-variations under several different hot wet and hot dry conditions. Men sweat more than women in all climates. The most significant difference was during hot wet exposures, where men were seen to sweat 25-40% more than women. [5] In a study conducted by Luecke, gender differences were explored between acclimated men and women at the upper limit of compensable heat stress. These findings indicated that women experienced a greater cardiovascular strain at the critical condition, and also greater heat strain than men at the same heat load. [6]

Worsening air quality due to climate change will therefore further impair the health of women, who are already suffering from indoor air pollution. All models' predict increase in transmission of malaria due to climate change. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria. Moreover, pregnancy reduces a woman's immunity to malaria, making her more susceptible to the infection, and increasing her risk of illness, severe anemia and death. [7] Especially rural and marginalized women in developing countries are among the most affected, given their limited access to resources and lack of decision-making power. [8]

52 nd Session of the United Nation (UN) Commission on the Status of Women in New York held in February 2008 discussed "Gender Perspectives on Climate Change". Panel discussion at the session showed that climate change is a gender issue, and that when natural disasters strike or severe weather events occur, the difference in impact on women and men must be considered. [9] Recently the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) report, "Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate Change" discussed in detail, that how climate change threatens to widen the gap between rich and poor and amplify gender inequalities. Report concluded that women bear the disproportionate burden of climate change, but have so far been largely overlooked in the debate about how to address problems of rising seas, droughts, melting glaciers and extreme weather. [10]

There is now an emerging debate and interest about the links between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate change. The global architecture of climate change should be challenged and discussion should shift to a more human-based, rights-based adaptation approach. Such a strategy would better serve the range of issues pivotal to improving the health of women worldwide. To conclude with, gender-based analysis examining the gender-variation of climate change must be studied thoroughly; and women must be included in disaster prevention, mitigation, and recovery strategies. As rightly remarked by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, "The voice of women is critically important for the world's future - not just for women's future". [7]

   References Top

1.Pandve HT. Global initiatives to prevent climate change. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2008;12:96-7.   Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
2.Pandve HT. Emerging public health issues due to climate change. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2008;12:142.   Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
3.Woodward A, Hales S, Litidamu N, Phillips D, Martin J. Protecting human health in a changing world: The role of social and economic development. Bulletin WHO 2000;78:1148-55.   Back to cited text no. 3
4.Kenney WL. A review of comparative responses of men and women to heat stress. Environ Res 1985;37:1-11.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Shapiro Y, Pandolf KB, Avellini BA, Pimental NA, Goldman RF. Physiological responses of men and women to humid and dry heat. J Appl Physiol 1980;49:1-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Luecke CL. Gender differences during heat strain at ctitical WBGT. Theses and Dissertations. Paper 2609. Available from: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/etd/2609 [Last accessed on 2011 Mar 11].   Back to cited text no. 6
7.Duncan K. Global Climate Change and Women's Health. Available from: http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/890479/global_climate_change_and_womens_health/index.html [Last accessed on 2010 Jan 14].  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Sengupta N. Women bear brunt of climate change. Available from: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Women-bear-brunt-of-climate-change/articleshow/5282772.cms [Last accessed on 2010 Jan 14].  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Duncan K. Feeling the heat: Women's health in a changing climate. Available from: http://www.cwhn.ca/node/39416 [Last accessed on 2010 Jan 14].  Back to cited text no. 9
10.UNFPA SWP Report 2009: Facing a Changing World - Women, Population and Climate Change. Available from: http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2009/en/ [Last accessed on 2010 Jan 14].  Back to cited text no. 10


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