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  • Kim

The Women and Climate Change Act of 2018

Last week, on February 5, 2018, Representative Barbara Lee of California introduced the Women and Climate Change Act of 2018 to "address the disparate impact of climate change on women." The bill proposes to address this disparate impact by creating a Federal Interagency Working Group on Women and Climate Change.

Of much greater interest, however, is that the bill proposes findings that could drive federal, climate-change policy-making in myriad, potentially unanticipated, ways.

Of particular note:

  • women are the first to feel the effects of environmental stress because women give birth to 100 percent of humanity and because they are the primary providers of food and health care;

  • climate change reduces access to food because it limits the amount of available water and arable land;

  • climate change increases the burden of health care because it increases the number and strength of epidemics such as malaria and zika;

  • climate change leads to global conflict over food and medical resources, and global conflict produces large numbers of displaced, refugee, and state-less women;

  • displaced, refugee, and state-less women must often exchange sex for food and medicine;

  • displaced, refugee, and state-less women are at an increased risk of HIV, STDs, and unwanted pregnancies; and

  • displaced, refugee, and state-less women face extreme violence such as rape, sexual exploitation, and abuse.

The draft bill finds that taken together, "no solution" to climate change is possible without the "full participation" of women; and yet, the "full participation of women . . . is constrained by a lack of economic freedoms, property and inheritance rights, as well as access to financial resources, education, family planning and reproductive health, and new tools, equipment, and technology."

As in all things, everything is connected.

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