How Trump's Stance On Climate Change Could Affect The World's Poorest Women

03/02/2017 16:40 GMT | Updated 04/02/2018 10:12 GMT
Bastiaan Slabbers via Getty Images

Thousands of miles from the chaos of Capitol Hill, on an eroded river bank in southern Bangladesh, sits Taslima.

She cradles her 18-month-old son and wonders how to feed him.

"When the storms come we huddle together and I pray it won't break our house again," said the mother of five.


On the edge: Taslima, in Patuakhali, southern Bangladesh, with her son, Mohammed

Taslima, 32, lives in Bangladesh, a low-lying country which is one of the world's most vulnerable to climate change.

Her home has been destroyed by floods several times and now she lives on the only space available to her - a crumbling river embankment.

Like millions around the world, Taslima has been cast to the margins by climate change.


Home: Taslima standing outside her tin and tarpaulin hut on a river embankment

She will probably never see the chaos that has descended upon Washington D.C. as the world's most powerful man issues edicts that fling multiple lives into disarray.

But the stance that United States President Donald Trump takes on climate change in the coming days will affect her nonetheless.

If Trump pulls out of a landmark Paris climate deal, as his former climate advisor predicted this week, it will deliver a sledgehammer blow to years of painstaking, collaborative work on curbing global warming.

Scientists have warned that if no action is taken then not only will small island states become uninhabitabl but more than 13 million Americans could be displaced by rising sea levels.

If the world is anxious about the refuges crisis now, a far greater humanitarian crisis could be in the offing.

Yet this scenario can be avoided if global powers remain committed to tackling climate change.

Remarkable efforts are being made to mitigate its most devastating impacts.

In developing countries, such as Bangladesh, these efforts are being led by women.


Impact: Haoa examines the crumbling embankments that are supposed to protect her village from rising sea levels

When floods ruined her crops in 2009, Haoa couldn't feed her two children. It spurred her to take action.

"I joined a farmers' federation to work out ways in which we could grow crops in areas affected by salty water," said the 32-year-old from Bangladesh.

The federation, funded by non-governmental organisation ActionAid, has helped to build dikes in eight canals so fresh water can be preserved for agriculture.

Other climate adaptation schemes being funded by ActionAid include raising villages on plinths so they are above the flood level and providing farmers with salt-tolerant rice seeds.

But these initiatives will be severely undermined if the US, one of the world's biggest carbon emitters, backtracks on its promises.


Precarious: homes in coastal Bangladesh

Shortly after gaining power the Trump administration deleted mentions of climate change from the White House website. Trump has previously called climate change a "hoax" and said he wants key oil industry figures to be at the heart of his government.

Amid this worrying landscape signs of hope have emerged on the streets.


Defiant: Placards being carried at the Women's March in London on January 21st 2017

They came by way of various placards held during Women's Marches on January 21st which urged Trump to put the planet first.

No one knows what the coming days will hold.

For the sake of women such as Taslima and Haoa, we must continue to raise our voices on climate change.