Climate Change impacts mothers’ unpaid care work

03.07.22

UN Geneva, Human Rights Council - Responding to a call for input by the UN Special Rapporteur on Climate Change, MMM highlights the specific impacts of climate change – notably in terms of loss and damage - on mothers and on their ability to care for and educate their children.

The adverse effects of climate change, which, like most crises, exacerbates existing inequalities and vulnerabilities, disproportionately affect women. Because they are often confined to roles and jobs that make them more dependent on natural resources; because they face barriers to financial and technical support; because they are denied access to resources and ownership, women are hindered in their adaptation to climate change and in their ability to cope with a climate disaster.

As climate change impacts access to clean water, nutrition and health, as well as livelihoods and food security, women and children also suffer disproportionately from loss and damage, which are devastating and often not quantifiable.

Links between climate change and unpaid care work

In our contribution, MMM draws particular attention to the impact of climate change on unpaid care work, which is largely overlooked.

Climate change often increases the time women have to spend on domestic and family care work. This foundational yet unpaid work of caring is mostly done by women, and is already a cause of economic injustice and hardship, especially for mothers. Climate change only makes matters worse.

The impact of climate change on food security, access to clean water, or on health, all increase the time and efforts women must put into unpaid care work. For example, climate change- induced desertification makes women walk longer distances to fetch water and cooking fuel. Rising temperature has an effect on children’s health, requiring increasing care. Recurring floods force mothers to flee with their children and repair damages when water recedes.

The Covid-19 pandemic has already shown how crises increase the level of care work required while reducing the number of people who are able to undertake care work. Women’s unpaid care work has regularly acted as a ‘shock absorber’ for all sorts of threats and crises, and it is not different with the Climate crisis.

Increasing women’s unpaid care work translates into further losses of opportunities for them, including income earning and education opportunities. It exacerbates existing inequalities and unbalanced power relations with men, undermining any progress towards Gender Equality, at a great cost for society and the economy.

It is therefore of utmost importance

  • to take a ‘care lens’ when devising any climate change adaptation or mitigation strategy, and look at the impacts on mothers and their children
  • to inform and educate women on climate change and possible mitigation and adaptation strategies
  • to harness women’s skills and experience, especially indigenous women’s, as well as their capacity to adapt
  • to involve women at every level of climate change related decision-making

Read our full contribution to the call for input

More information on the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, his report and this call for input can be found on the OHCHR website.

 

Most read articles

MMM welcomes first ever Human Rights Council resolution on Care

11.10.23

UN Geneva, Human Rights Council - Entitled ‘Centrality of care and support from a human rights perspective’, this landmark resolution was presented by the governments of Argentina, Iceland, Mexico

Lire plus

Call to action: make 2024 the EU year for Women’s Mental Health

09.10.23

In June this year, the European Union (EU) Commission announced a new high-priority initiative to address the mental health of all Europeans.

Lire plus

Investing in mothers key for inter-generational change

13.02.24

UN New York, CSocD62 - MMM's intervention to the Commission on Social Development reiterates that investing in mothers through recognition, education, protection and adequate support is a smart invest

Lire plus
See all the articlesof the category

Latest News from MMM and its Network

Widowed mothers: MMM calls for addressing the distinct challenges they face

20.06.24

UN Geneva, Human Rights Council - MMM was invited to contribute to a side-event organised by Widows Rights International to discuss the unique challenges faced by widows who are mothers, while continuing to sho

Read more

MMM teams push for strengthening the right to education

19.06.24

UN Geneva – A resolution aimed at strengthening the right to education in international legal instruments will be negotiated during the 56th session of the Human Rights Council, which began on 18 June. This r

Read more

A new social contract cannot ignore care

16.06.24

UN Geneva, 112th International Labour Conference (ILC) – MMM contributed to the discussion on the International Labour Organisation Director General’s report calling for a new social contract.

Read more

What mothers need from a care economy

16.06.24

UN Geneva – A general discussion on decent work and the care economy was on the agenda of the 112th International Labour Conference (ILC), which took place over the past two weeks. MMM was there, providing in

Read more

Addressing crises through a ‘Care lens’

10.06.24

UN New York – MMM's written statement, which was submitted ahead of the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF), sheds light on the impact of the different crises we face globally on unpaid care work, which rema

Read more

Reconciling parenthood and work in Belgium – join the public consultation

30.05.24

MMM is proud to announce its support of a new initiative aimed at tackling the vital topic of ‘parenthood and employment’, a critically overlooked, urgent, and complex issue world-wide.

Read more