Women will “bear the brunt” of tasks ensuring survival when the effects of climate change bite, Hillary Clinton has warned.
Speaking at an event at Georgetown University in Washington, Ms Clinton criticised the US administration for its plans to take America out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, urging students to put pressure on the Government.
Asked about the effect of climate change on women, Ms Clinton said: “I would say that particularly for women… they will bear the brunt of looking for the food, looking for the firewood, looking for the place to migrate to when all of the grass is finally gone.
She pointed to desertification, which is expected to affect up to 30 per cent of the planet if global temperatures rise 2C above pre-industrial levels.
Crops are “burning up” in “the intense heat that we’re now seeing reported across North Africa, into the Middle East, and into India”, she said.
“So yes, women once again, will be… primarily burdened with the problems of climate change.”
Global warming is expected to worsen the risk of natural disasters. It is widely accepted that such events disproportionately affect women.
Expensive climate-related disaster relief uses resources that could otherwise be used for social and economic development, including advances of gender equality.
Girls are also more likely than boys to be pulled out of school to help with domestic chores after a disaster, according to the UN.
After the 2012 Fiji floods, for example, there were reports girls were being taken out of school to help take care of younger children earn money as sex workers.
Damaged infrastructure in the aftermath of natural disasters also prevents pregnant women from accessing healthcare, increasing risks to their health.
Studies have shown women and children are 14 times more likely to die during a disaster than men. The UN attributes this in part to differences in capacity to cope with such events and insufficient access to information and warnings.
During Hurricane Katrina, most of the people trapped in New Orleans were African-American women and children, who form the poorest demographic group in the US.