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By invitation only
Air quality is of increasing concern for policymakers across Asia and the Pacific. Nonetheless, the socioeconomic impacts of air pollution including on gender inequality need more understanding. Hence, this thematic dialogue is purposed to explore gaps and opportunities in existing research and practices.
Women in the region are particularly affected by air pollution due to structural and biological factors, including lower wages and lack of decent jobs, motherhood, traditional gender roles and cultural norms. In 2012, 60 per cent of all premature deaths from indoor air pollution were observed in women and children (WHO 2016).
Recent studies suggest that miscarriage, preterm birth, low birth weight are all linked to high levels of air pollution in the region. Exposure to air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO) and cooking smoke have been associated with higher risk for stillbirth and spontaneous abortion. In South Asia alone, it was estimated that more than 349,000 lost pregnancies each year are linked to excessive air pollution (Xue et al. 2021). Hence, emission reduction strategies should consider reduction of maternal exposure to air pollutants.
Connections between air quality, gender, and work in the region also need to be explored further to identify gender-based determinants of activity patterns and exposure. Indoor air pollution in Asian countries is gender-shifted to women and young girls who tend to spend more time indoors. According to the recent UNEP report ‘Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-based Solutions’, clean cooking measures contribute directly to many health-related SDG targets such as reducing deaths from air pollution, and reducing preventable deaths among children under five years.
Since air pollution, in its various forms, disproportionately affects women, policies to address air pollution should mainstream gender and monitor policies outcomes from a gender perspective. Addressing the common challenges of gender and health implications of air pollution will benefit from a coordinated approach to simultaneously achieve health improvement and gender equality across the region.
The CCAC Secretariat and CCAC partners will be speaking at the event.