Life on the Edge: Reproductive Health in a Changing Climate

Nov 23, 2021 | News, Pakistan

By Rafia Rauf and Elena Ateva

For most women, pregnancy comes with associated difficulties like loss of appetite, tiredness and severe bodily changes and anxiety sometimes.

Could you imagine being pregnant in 122 F/50C weather? You are constantly tired, lethargic, do not want to cook or eat, and are afraid what will happen with your baby after she or he is born. This is not an, imagination but the reality for too many women and newborns the world over, who are feeling the effects of climate change today.

As global temperatures rise, extreme weather events like flood, drought , with aising seas bringing undrinkable salt water, making it hard to find any water and changing patterns for vector borne diseases like malaria and extreme heat – all threaten maternal and newborn health leading to higher levels of miscarriage, prematurity, stillbirth, and neonatal death.

Through the

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campaign, thousands of women have been telling us that the climate crisis is having an effect on their reproductive health. Women from Kenya, for example, are sharing that harsh climatic conditions are negatively affecting their menstrual cycles and the health of their newborns. Women in Nigeria want to be protected from environmental hazards throughout their pregnancies and women in Pakistan are suffering from extreme heat.


Regarding the latter example, in the Jacobabad district in Sindh province and the Bahawalpur district of Punjab province, the average temperature during the summer ranges from 41°C to 44°C (106F to 111F). But for the last few years, Jacobabad – one of the hottest cities on earth – has been regularly surpassing 50 °C (122°F) during the summer months. Listen to expectant women and new mothers from these cities sharing how the rising temperatures are affecting them.

On November 5th, White Ribbon Alliance and partners joined the US Agency for International Development in a side event at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). We urged governments to listen to the evidence coming from women and act urgently to prevent a climate catastrophe and fund adaptation efforts prioritizing pregnant women and newborn babies. Listen, learn and act!

About White Ribbon Alliance:

Founded in 1999, White Ribbon Alliance is a locally led, globally connected grassroots movement advocating for the health and rights of women, girls, and newborns. We actively work in partnership with women, men, their families and communities, professionals and practitioners from diverse fields and all sectors of government. We use many approaches, all of which put citizens at the center so that health policies, programs and practices are driven by lived experiences.

WHITE RIBBON ALLIANCE contact: Kimberly Whipkey,

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