Reproductive Justice and Climate Change - agendas that connect
Emanuelle F. Góes*
After a natural disaster in Mozambique, areas affected by Cyclone Idai harmed women in access to health services. The unavailability of contraceptive and post-abortion care services persisted, even when the situation stabilized. In the Gulf of Texas region of the United States, Hurricane Ike compromised the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls because they could not access contraceptive services and methods, with Black women being the most harmed compared to White women.
In Brazil, on São Luís island, a study shows that women suffer spontaneous abortion due to air pollution. Extreme temperatures have impacted pregnant and newborns, and these are increasingly being recognized as vulnerable populations in the context of climate change. We could list many other situations in which women and girls are the most harmed and have their rights neglected when we experience climate crises, pandemics, and economic and humanitarian crises. We call the tyranny of the urgent when the prioritization of actions in face of crises does not put at the center Human Rights based on genders, race, and sexualities, as well as suppresses previously guaranteed services, such as the closure of legal abortion services, services to combat violence against women, the low supply of inputs for STIs/HIV/AIDS, contraceptives, among other things.
The lack of provision of services related to sexual and reproductive health and gender violence are deepened in these contexts. During the pandemic, a significant increase in reports of violence against women in countless countries and cases of femicide has been shown. In the face of climate disasters, women carry out migration because they live, in most situations, in places that they call subnormal, where no one should live, and these are the places most affected by climate disasters. This forced migration exposes women and girls to gender-based violence, primarily sexual, physical, and psychological violence.
What women live in is the chain reaction generated by climate change. We could recall the Zika virus epidemic, an arbovirus that impacts environmental health, related to poor sanitation, but is also a sexually transmitted infection transmitted from the pregnant woman to the fetus (vertical transmission) that can lead to Congenital Zika Syndrome. The previously context of inequalities and injustices generated by the racist patriarchal system make Black, Indigenous, Northern, and Northeastern Brazilian girls and women the same as those who experience a state of absence of fundamental rights, such as access to water, sanitary sewage, and adequate garbage collection, and have difficulty in accessing sexual and reproductive health services, not being able to plan their reproduction and build families when they wish. The Zika virus epidemic the hardest hit these women.
Therefore, it is understood that climate change is a matter of reproductive justice because it recognizes racism and its manifestations at the intersection with related oppressions. Moreover, we need physical, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being to ensure good health. Still, it is also fundamental to promote social conditions (social justice), such as issues related to housing, access to drinking water, and food security.
They are Black women, Indigenous and traditional communities, as well as people of sexual orientation, identity, and/or gender expression underrepresented, people from the margins, from the peripheries of the world, the most affected by humanitarian crises and environmental disasters, however, they are the ones who bring the solution, and that must be at the center for adaptation of the times we live in change. Still, for this, their rights must be reserved, first of all, with justice.
A healthy community, a state full of rights to exercise sexual and reproductive rights with autonomy and self-determination.
How to cite:
Goes, Emanuelle F. Reproductive Justice and Climate Change – agendas that connect. Salvador, Bahia. 2022. Available at: [link do site].
* Emanuelle F. Góes is a Post-Doc (CIDACS/Fiocruz/Bahia) conducting studies with Big Data (large databases), Fellow of the Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements & Population Health Equity (Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health/ USA).