“Correlation” out with the storm

December 9, 2009 | NeW Staff

This was written to the editors of News and Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Dear News and Observer Editor,

The Dec. 7 column, “Warming Woes and the World’s Women” argues that women are most affected by global climate change because women represent the highest percentage of people living below the poverty line and bear a “disproportionate burden” when natural disasters hit.  The authors, Victor Flatt, Taft Professor at UNC’s School of Law and Donna Surge, associate professor at UNC, used loosely based research without considering the larger context surrounding the nations surveyed.

The study looks at developing areas of the world where the problems considered—lack of women’s rights embedded in a deeply patriarchal society—have not solely resulted from climate change. The study examines areas with little economic development that face the greatest problems. Logically the nation bears the greatest burden when a natural disaster hits, regardless of the amount of women in the society. What is more, women in these developed countries lack substantial women’s rights and would again, logically, have it “worse off” than men, regardless of natural disasters.

Instead, there should be global pressure to ensure that women everywhere are given equal opportunities. These nations deserve more than merely pointing out what everyone already knows: developing nations are still developing.

Jessica Custer

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