A stable climate is essential if we are to ensure the well-being of the residents of the world. Climatic factors such as temperature, rainfall, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and pollution are closely linked with agriculture production – without it, we cannot know when to plant crops and harvest them. Bangladesh has made much-needed progress in reducing hunger with a tripling in its annual rice production over the last three decades, and agriculture remains a key part of the economy, making up nearly 20 percent of Bangladesh’s gross domestic product (GDP) and engaging 65 percent of the labour force according to a World Bank report, but climate change threatens to erode these gains and threaten these livelihoods. At the same time the global market for food has become increasingly unpredictable, with high and volatile food prices resulting in two global food price crises in just the last three years.
Poor people can spend up to 75 percent of their income on food and often depend on food assistance. High and volatile prices hit these people hardest. Women are often the first to suffer malnutrition in the family. This has repercussions on their health, productivity, quality of life and survival. Hunger and malnutrition increase women’s dependency on men and decrease their decision-making power. Reduced access to food makes women more vulnerable than men to the consequences of natural disasters. Women in poor households have been identified as the ‘victims’ as well as ‘managers’ of household food security. Women as producers of food and livestock as well as primary meal makers have important responsibilities to ensure household food security. A significant number of women farmers in Bangladesh are unable to access fertilizer, cash assistance and other government subsidies intended for farmers, simply because of their gender.
By ensuring the rights of female farmers and the climate justice we can grow more food more fairly and more sustainably. Governments and companies must take urgent action to reform bad policies, to preserve scarce resources and share them fairly.
Oxfam International Country Director Bangladesh
Oxfam GB Asia