Bangladeshi Women Bearing the Brunt of Climate Crisis
According to researchers, rural Bangladeshi families are spending the majority of their money to safeguard themselves and their homes against climate change, particularly households headed by women, who are investing up to 30% of their spending.
According to research published recently by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the high share of spending by female-led families – many of which are located in flood-prone areas – is double the average of 15% because women have lower earnings than men.
Men from Bangladesh's northwest regions frequently go to work elsewhere on a seasonal basis, leaving women to manage the household. Raising the base of their houses above flood-water levels, planting trees, and building shelters to keep livestock safe are measures taken by rural households to adapt to climate change and reduce hazards.
Low-lying Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of rising global temperatures, such as more severe monsoon flooding, intense storms, and rising sea levels.
Paul Steele, IIED’s chief economist and one of the study authors, said:
"While men spend a greater amount on climate adaptation in absolute terms, women have to spend a larger share of their smaller average income."
IIED, Kingston University London, and the United Nations Development Programme in Bangladesh conducted a survey of 3,094 rural households in ten districts to determine how gender and socioeconomic factors influenced spending to protect households from disasters such as storms, floods, and drought.
According to the study, floods impacted 43% of families, storms affected 41%, and longer-term stresses, including drought and salinity, affected 83 per cent of households.
In 2021, each household spent almost 7,500 takas ($88) on preventive measures, amounting to about $1.7 billion among the rural population.
According to Steele, the findings demonstrate that the Bangladesh government and donor governments need to provide more financial assistance to impoverished households directly affected by climate change, particularly those headed by women who are bearing the brunt of the burden.
According to an earlier 2019 report by IIED, Bangladeshi families in rural areas were paying 12 times more each year than the country received in foreign aid to prepare for and cope with the effects of climate change.
Female-headed households spend 2 percentage points more of their overall budgets on flood relief than male-headed households, and 3 percentage points more on other risks like extreme heat.
When it comes to storms, however, female-headed families spend 30 per cent more, even though there are fewer of them in the storm-prone southwest, where Cyclone Amphan impacted millions of people in 2020.
According to the IIED study, despite having less capacity to adjust to climate challenges, social conventions typically expect women to function as suppliers of food, water, and other basics.