Global Citizen spoke to Angela Baschieri, the regional adviser on population dynamics in UNFPA’s Eastern and Southern Africa office, about the need for countries to include increasing women’s health services in climate adaptation plans and strategies.

Baschieri has 15 years of experience as an international development specialist and has conducted research published in international economic development journals.

Here, she helps us learn more about the threat climate change presents for women and girls, potential solutions, and how we can all take action to help.

Global Citizen: Can you help us understand the connection between climate-related disasters and women's and girls' sexual and reproductive health? 

Angela Baschieri: The impact of climate change is not gender-neutral; it affects women disproportionately. We know that women and girls are largely dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. We know that they are also the hardest hit by extreme weather patterns, which in turn limits access to food, water, shelter, and access to services, including health services, education services, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

More and more evidence is showing the direct impact of climate change on maternal health outcomes. One study showed [increases] in temperature in the weeks before delivery corresponded with an increase in the likelihood of stillbirth.

We also know that global warming is associated with an increase in vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and pregnant women are susceptible to this disease, which increases the risk of unsafe abortion, premature delivery, stillbirth. Other types of linkages that we find where we have evidence is the correlation between climate change and pollution. We know that air pollution is linked to poor maternal health outcomes and it brings an increase in stillbirths, low birth weight, and so on.

How can women and girls help drive climate solutions?

It is essential that we consider women and youth as the solution. They are the ones disproportionately affected and we know that around the world, women and young people are often the ones leading the response to climate disasters. They are the ones that after a disaster are working on building community resilience.

Read the full interview about climate change and gender equity with Angela Baschieri at Global Citizen