Feminist Political Economy, Human Mobility, And Climate Change

Posted by Samantha Mary Jones on December 15th, 2021

The world watched in despair as countless people across Afghanistan fled from their homes again. People worldwide have been forced to leave their cities, homes, and countries by extremist groups, violent conflicts, and increasing insecurities.

Climate crisis is yet another critical issue that leaders across the globe continue to ignore, despite its severity. Data reveals that the climate crisis, through both slow and sudden on-set environmental impacts like hurricanes, cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and floods, have caused over 31.2 million displacements in 2020.

Human mobilities induced by climate change, such as forced displacement, migration, or planned relocation and retreat are almost deemed as issues that might arise in the future, however, the climate crisis is no longer an only futuristic threat.

Changes in environmental degradation and climate often push people to consider mobility as a form of adaption, however, they inherently pose risks to all human security dimensions, including economic, environmental, community, health, food, and political security.

Researchers have found substantial evidence to believe that various areas of the world have started becoming increasingly less habitable because of the slow and sudden onset of climate-related hazards. While people can move for various reasons, including climate crisis, there are typically underlying political, cultural, socio-economic and environmental reasons that either hinder or enable their abilities to cope where they\'re settled or results in them deciding to move (Weerashinghe, 2021; Bower and Warner, 2018; Gemenne et al., 2014).

However, the experiences and impacts vary by intersecting circumstances and individual characteristics, such as ethnicity, age, geographical location, gender, socio-economic class, access and power over resources, and disabilities. But the international community and global leaders need to act with urgency and pro-activeness to prevent more humanitarian crises and transform gender and social injustices.

Research surrounding climate-induced migrations, displacements, and relocations, whether planned or unplanned, continues to demonstrate how disruptive it can be for several aspects of the social fabric and human security among communities (Mckellar-Piggott, Nunn, and McNamara, 2019; Pill, 2020). These costs of induced mobilities and climate-induced adaption are much higher than just financial and economic losses. The non-economic and non-financial losses can be identified as impacting psychological and physical well-being, cultural heritage, sense of belonging, family structure and varied labor conditions, disruptions to social cohesion, and more.

Planned relocations require dedicated experts capable of extensive and detailed consultations and providing adequate finances to the affected communities. Past experiences reveal a drastic increase in unemployment, landlessness, food scarcity, socio-economic inequalities, conflict, and significant deterioration in the overall well-being (Gemenne, 2018; McLeman, 2018; McAdam, 2010; Adger et al., 2014). Moreover, the decisions pertaining to the how, why, where, and when of the planned relocations involve exercising of powers by multiple stakeholders involved, especially the community and the state. Power, in this particular context, refers to the ability of institutions and individuals to influence various decisions, critical to the relocation process, such as access to outreach initiatives and training, or allocation and control of resources (True and Tanyag, 2019; Bertana, 2020).

Another interesting point observed by scholars through extensive studies, such as those pertaining to the Fiji relocation of Vunidogoloa village, revealed that despite improved living conditions and infrastructure, women-led households are the ones that feel most burdened for their social reproductive roles. In addition, research also shows that traditional and local structures of the society continue to limit the input of women from the decision-making spaces (Bertana, 2020).


The Feminist Political Economy During Human Mobility Induced by Climate Change


The study of international relations is dedicated to gaining an understanding of who holds power, who benefits, and who makes the decisions. In the case of human mobility that\'s induced by the climate crisis, it demands an examination of the roles played by the international stakeholders, the state, and the affected community\'s context. When seen through a feminist spectacle, it\'s critical to recognize gender inequality and high rates of gender-biased and sexual violence for non-binary individuals, girls, and women who remain most vulnerable in the face of climate crisis.

In Fiji, for instance, it\'s the women who are the primary care providers, despite the social norms that typically dictate gendered behaviors. Disruptions such as planned relocations, forced displacements, and ad hoc community consultations significantly impact the female population as it is them who had to face increased pressure to meet the domestic responsibilities, especially in terms of accessing necessary childcare and food security. The time they spend on unpaid and paid work in communities and their households is crucial for understanding the value they contribute through an expanded lens of labor, money, and time.

Thus, across intersections of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural communities, the impact of planned relocations and displacement induced by the climate crisis and natural disasters has major psychosocial impacts. It\'s crucial that states set holistic guidelines after evaluating the complex relationships between people and land. They should also use this opportunity to transform social practices, such as reducing gender bias and inequality.

About The Author

The author is a political economist who holds a degree in political sciences and International Relations. She has vast experience writing for various publications and teaches at a reputable educational institution. She writes articles and opinion pieces about research surrounding global growth, climate, trade, income, and gender inequalities.


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Samantha Mary Jones

About the Author

Samantha Mary Jones
Joined: February 17th, 2020
Articles Posted: 7

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