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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/18/19

Despite odds, determination of women climate migrants is writ large

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There are 2 schools till grade 12. Her daughters were able to study till grade 10, while the sons studied till grade 7, and the younger children are in elementary school. There are 2 government medical centres where services are free, but most of the medicines are always in short supply. Institutional deliveries are unheard of and women deliver babies at home with the help of traditional community midwives. Then again, each 'barangay' (the smallest administrative division) like Baseco is equipped with an ambulance whose services can be availed free of charge by any member of the community, during an emergency. But in reality only those who are known to the barangay leaders, are able to get this service. When Salve had an attack due to hypertension, it was the tricycle rickshaw that brought her to the hospital and not the ambulance.

No resettlement without social support services

Well, her family was earlier offered resettlement by the government but she refused, as there was no means of livelihood for her husband in the area of relocation. So, despite the vagaries of nature and other problems, they preferred to stay here, where they could at least earn a living. But now she fears that the reclamation plans of the government will put the residents of this area in deep trouble. She, along with her organisation - the Gabriela National Alliance of Women - is opposing this reclamation project as it will result in more misery for the people.

What changed in past two decades?

11 childbirths have taken a toll on her health, but Salve is happy that her life has improved over the last 19 years. She is economically better off today, more so, because now her sons also contribute to the family earnings. She is also happy to have joined, 4 years ago, the Gabriela National Alliance of Women, which supports and fights for the rights of women, where she is in-charge of international affairs. So when there are visitors from outside who want to visit the community, she attends to them. All this solidarity and engagement, has helped her increase her own knowledge and empower her. Once when two of her children were sick and the medical centre had no medicines, then it was Gabriela network that came to her rescue.

But she would be happier if the local government could implement some proper urban planning in this area - divide the houses into blocks, fix the network of roads to make the area accessible, especially during monsoons, and increase livelihood opportunities.

Extreme climate events impact women more?

Yes, women do face severest brunt of any natural calamity as compared to men. Salve feels women are uniquely vulnerable because they have to care more for the children and the family. Also, if one is poor and there is not enough money, women bear the stress and brunt even more.

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