Amit Patel, Assistant Professor, McCormack Graduate School for Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston
Ammar Malik, Director, EPOD Research
Environmental degradation reduces the environmental capacity to meet social and ecological needs of societies, which is exacerbated by natural hazards and extreme climate events, and often intensify existing vulnerabilities. Marginalized groups in cities, particularly women and poor, are disproportionately at risk to face negative consequences of such environmental stressors. To better understand relationship between women empowerment and environmental degradation in cities, we surveyed 1,199 households in 12 informal settlements of New Delhi (India), Dhaka (Bangladesh), and Islamabad and Lahore (Pakistan). Using this data, we created the Empowerment in Informal Settlements Index (EISI) and the Women’s Empowerment in Informal Settlements Index (WEISI) that systematically measure men’s and women’s empowerment. We found that women were significantly less empowered than their male counterparts in all three countries, with widest gaps in Pakistan. We tested several linkages between empowerment and measures of environmental degradation using regression analyses and found many significant associations.