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Pakistan’s women go unheard in climate change conversations

(The Third Pole, 21 Nov 2023) Climate change-induced catastrophes exacerbate existing struggles for women in Karachi’s informal settlements, who are left out of decision-making in a society deeply rooted in gender disparity.

Forty-year-old beautician, Sonia Arif, a mother of four, is struggling to make ends meet after her husband Arif had to shut his tailoring shop when they were unable to pay the monthly rent of 40,000 Pakistani rupees (USD 139). “I am sick of the yelling that has become a norm in my house for the past two years. The unbearable heat has added to my plight. In my next life, I want to be born as a man,” she says.

A resident of one of the most neglected areas in Karachi, Kausar Niazi Colony, along the Gujjar Nala stormwater drain, Sonia lost her home in 2021 in a huge demolition drive to remove encroaching structures that were throttling the natural waterway. She and her family had no option but to live in rented accommodation.

The clogged waterway was blamed for urban flooding in 2020, when large parts of Karachi were submerged after bouts of intense monsoon rainfall which Dr Sardar Sarfaraz, chief meteorologist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department, said was a “climate-related catastrophe” due to rise in global temperature.

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The Third Pole, 21 Nov 2023: Pakistan’s women go unheard in climate change conversations