The agony of women climate refugees: why women are made to suffer the most?

“The loud noise of the helicopter is making us deaf. The strong wind is enough to tear our fragile clothes but we are approaching it. We are struggling to get a sack of flour to feed our kids. Our houses are drowned, crops are damaged, and our fields have been ruined. We   are assuming   that we will also, as our friends, relatives, and villagers were drowned.”

The words are circulating on social media, which help the viewers in visualizing the physical as well as psychological conditions of climate refugees. They are experiencing the fear, the fear of being swept away by flood or by poverty. Humanitarian groups and organizations are seen as raising funds to provide possible help to flood victims. After stepping down from your house, you will encounter so many camps, with the vibrant slogan that serve Humanity.  Then why have been women continuously excluded from the list of humans? In the camps, we see people vigorously donating clothes, shoes, quilts, and edibles, while enchanting religious sayings. But they forget to enlist feminine products, whether it is sanitary napkins or pregnancy emergency kits. And when they accidentally encounter these products, either they mock them or feel disgusted. This attitude towards women and their health is unbearable.

The Government of Pakistan estimates that around 33 million people across the country are affected, including an estimated 8.2 million women of reproductive age. It means that according to their menstruation cycle, they will need sanitary utensils for approximately eight days to not let their clothes bleed throughout the time.  A Social Worker from Rajanpur, while urging for help asked for daily times.

“Please send anything for menstruating girls, they have nothing and they feel extremely humiliated walking or sitting in shelters with clothes covered in blood, food isn’t what they look for right now, please send as many sanitary products as possible.”

But more than a humiliation it is the basic right of women. United Nations since 2019 have been observing 28 May at Menstrual Hygiene Day, acknowledging Women’s needs.  Till   now many campaigns and drives have launched on the   international level bring    awareness     among   men   as well.   But  in    Pakistani ,     there is  a  cadre  of men    ,  who      voluntarily or    vehemently    miss   every    opportunity    they   could   have   to      acquire   knowledge   about    sex   education   ,      social     security  ,  menstrual   hygiene    ,  which     all    are    compiled   up to     fall into the     category of   women     rights.

The   ongoing   devastating floods of 2022, could   also have opportunity for them but they   got   trapped    in their own dungeons of   masculinity.    And   the taboos are   getting   flattened.

From  Mahwari  Injustice  to  Mahwari  Justice

“A Woman’s menstruation cycle does not stop because one-third of the country is underwater

These words of   Bushra  Mahnoor, co-founder of  Mahwari  Justice sparked a debate on social media.  Where the idea of providing pads to women refugees and victims, began to be   synchronized    with  men’s   shaving   kits. Some   people   called it luxury and mocked it as the   western agenda   of infecting our   society   with feminist   ideas. This is not what women     deserve.

Following  the   heavy  rainfall  of  this    monsoon   season, the  north   western  and  southern       part  of   Pakistan  began  to  experience     flash   floods .  The disastrous   flood till now has claimed 1100   human   lives, damaged infrastructure   and   drowned   crops.  Sherry, The    Minister of    Climate, term   at    the    Climate Catastrophe.   The    Prime   Minter of   Pakistan,  Shehbaz  Sharif   announced  that  the    Government    will    provide    relief  of  4 bn   rupees  to   Baluchistan , the   most    effected     province of   Pakistan.

Fewer   number of   NGOs    are   also seen as    working   to    bring some     ease in     victim’s lives. Prominent    among them   is    Alkhidmat Foundation, which since the   start of    monsoon, had   started its rescue operation.   More overseas Pakistanis    are    contributing    through     finical    aid.  All these     developments    are     creating a    sense of   positivity.  It     shows every   individual   who is being    affected is   important.    But Does   these   steps    really   acknowledge   women’s needs    specially    when they    are in   crisis.   Does the    whole     system is     equipped to   cater their needs?

Due to Mahwari Justice, menstrual hygiene equipments   have become reachable to the      refugee women.  But   does the    duty   ends   here.  The    Mahwari  Jusitce  Drive   is  doing  a    commendable   able    job  and  shackling the   taboos.  Due   to   their      efforts, people   in    Pakistan are   at least    talking   about, but    still   there is  need  of training. Women of   those   areas   still   mocked for   calling       pads   as Kids    dippers.   The    Mahwari Justice     needs to   be   implemented. The   new   concepts of urban     areas needs to    be    transported to    those   areas   to make    their   lives      easier.   The      indifference    to their   needs, will   continuously   put the     humanity   on crisis.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, estimates that almost 650,000 pregnant women in the flood-affected areas require maternal health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and childbirth. Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, newborn care, and support.  Collectively   , 1300,000    live are in the dire need  of   medication.  If    we   fail to address   their   needs    then    there   would     be another catastrophe   of humanity.

Huma Ahmad is a research fellow

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