Women’s Livelihoods in Vulnerable Coastlines
Climate change has a much more forceful impact on livelihoods, food security, health, and well-being for those relying on and living alongside natural resources for their subsistence and survival. Research has shown that women experience climate-related risks differently than men. Often this is not because they are more reliant on ‘natural resources’ but because it is women who are expected to do the labor involved in sustaining and maintaining the household. Therefore creating the means through which men are more insulated from the everyday hazards of unpredictable weather.
Building on seven years of research in the Bay of Bengal delta for her AXA fellowship, Dr. Megnaa Mehtta, a researcher from University College London, aims to conduct long-term ethnographic fieldwork in order to better understand differentiated vulnerability through gendered disaggregated data. She will investigate three specific indicators among Sundarbans residents: women’s migration motivations, seasonal occupations, and intra-household inequalities. Secondly, across three specific arenas on the Sundarbans, Dr. Mehtta will investigate the possibilities and limits of gendered forms of coastline knowledge. Her research seeks to differentiate the notion of a “coastline” by focusing on the forms of experiential knowledge that emerge through living in the proximity of different kinds of water bodies that compose a coastline. Through mixed methods, including qualitative, quantitative, and geospatial data, she will investigate Sundarbans coastal inhabitants’ relationship to these water bodies, their valuation, and the perceptions of ecological threats and vulnerabilities, disaggregated by gender.
While her study will be specific to the ecology of the Sundarbans, it hopes to reveal its relevance to coastal populations in other parts of the world facing similar contestations at the intersection of conservation, climate-related risks, and poverty enabling cross-regional comparisons across coastal livelihoods risks, and adaptive possibilities.
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