Social Impacts of Climate Change on Women’s Health in Belize

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för socialt arbete

Abstract: The aim of this thesis was to investigate whether climate change affects women’s health in Belize, and if so, how. Belize, being a low-lying coastline country is prone to suffer from repercussions of climate change. The data was collected by conducting four focus group discussions with female participants in four rural villages in Belize. A qualitative thematic analysis was carried out to analyze the data.The findings showed that the climatic changes seen, had serious impacts on the lives and health of the participants with both physical and mental health implications. They were exacerbated by lack of, or difficulties in accessing adequate health care. Notions of the future were described by fear of future aggravated climate changes, which also affected their current health status, inter alia sleeping patterns. Several participants had been temporarily or permanently displaced and had to seek sustenance elsewhere in Belize due to effects of climate change. The findings also pointed to the women’s agency in creating adaptation strategies to deal with the extreme weather events. Furthermore, they portrayed initiatives for community action to build resilience. It was evident that progress can only come by addressing the social determinants of health with an intersectoral approach across governmental and societal levels. Policies and interventions must address the interconnectedness of social policies and health in several areas, including promotion of participation throughout policy-making and implementation. Increased and monitored accountability is needed, along with gender-sensitive agendas, portraying the authorities’ responsibilities.

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