Caregivers at the frontline of addressing the climate crisis
This article draws on Oxfam’s work in Pakistan. It explores the burdens of addressing the climate crisis on the unpaid labour of poverty-stricken women in Badin, Pakistan. A case study methodology has been used to highlight the experiences of four women farmers in Badin and understand the impact of climate change on their care workload. Seawater intrusion and rising temperatures are key stressors leading to acute shortages of water. This is increasing women’s time spent on key care activities like fodder and water collection, and livestock rearing. A severe negative impact has been observed on the drudgery of care work and, in turn, on the health and well-being of the women. In a context where prevalent gender inequality and social norms lead to unequal life chances for women, it has been observed that due to climate change, women have to travel further, work harder, and assume more care responsibilities. It has also been observed that care is primarily seen as a feminine task with residual care responsibilities falling on the shoulders of other women in the household, particularly girls, crippling their life chances. Despite all these challenges, women are organising and raising their voices on key issues around climate change. The article recommends that the four ‘Rs’ framework – recognise, reduce, redistribute, and represent – developed by feminist economists and care experts, be integrated across mainstream climate policy and programmes to help women in poverty improve their well-being and exercise their social, economic, and political rights.
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