Women Lead The Fight Against Climate Change

Women are leading the fight against climate change and other urgent environmental issues that confront the planet, according to Dr. Sarah Otterstrom, Executive Director of Paso Pacifico, at the Clinton Global Initiative.

In Nicaragua, women are leading reforestation efforts and have planted over 100,000 native trees. Their work has offset more than 150,000 tons of greenhouse gases and help protect watersheds that are crucial to the health of their communities. Paso Pacifico provides job training in entrepreneurship and forestry which enable women to build businesses and become leaders in their communities. “They are strengthened by our program,” Otterstrom says, “but ultimately they are the ones who are making Paso Pacifico projects a success.”

Paso Pacifico also uses this training model to help women protect their beaches from turtle egg poachers. Local campesinas learn about the endangered turtle species and are trained to patrol their local beaches. For each hatchling successfully protected they receive an incentive payment. Their monthly income equals a rural laborer’s salary, but the job is flexible because women can coordinate their schedules. More than 10,000 turtles have been hatched due to the efforts of these women over the past two years. For the first time in 25 years ,endangered turtle eggs are hatching along the beaches in Southern Nicaragua.

As women in Nicaragua find their traditional roles expanding, they embrace new ideas and technologies to support themselves. For example, when the Portable Light Project and Paso Pacifico brought solar lamps to the communities, the women started to use the lights to patrol beaches, help their children with homework at night and cook for their families in predawn hours. “One woman told me how excited she was the first time she got up to feed her baby and make tortillas at four a.m.” Otterstrom said. “She could do so in light instead of darkness. Something so inexpensive improves their lives dramatically.”

Having caught the entrepreneurial bug, women are now opening their own businesses with Paso Pacifico’s support. In one coastal community, women have opened a sea kayaking business, in another an eco-tourism guiding company and in a third an eco-lodge. All of these endeavors are successfully bringing tourism dollars into their local communities.

“This is what happens when you invest in women,” says Dr. Otterstrom. “They are smart. We teach them how to use their skills to run a business and care for their natural resources, just as they care for their families and neighbors. Only now, they are earning money, empowering themselves, improving their community and helping the environment. It is win, win, win and we want to do more of it.”

source: http://news.yahoo.com/women-lead-fight-against-climate-change-140818855.html

Abibiman Launches Women And Climate Change Justice Hearing 2011

The Abibiman Foundation, a Tema-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), on Friday launched the 2011 Women and Climate Change Justice Hearing 2011 – The Road to Durban project, under the theme; “Strengthening Voices, Searches for Solution” at the Tema Central market.

The Women and Climate Change Justice Hearing is an attempt by the NGO to give hearing to persons who are mostly impacted by the effects of climate change, mainly women, to tell their own stories to ensure that they are listened to in the policy debate around climate justice.

The NGO will be travelling the length and breadth of the country to interact with women to voice out their concerns, as well demand space in the policy debate around climate justice so that they can present same at Durban next year.

Addressing the launch, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Abibiman Foundation, Kenneth Nana Amoateng, said women in Ghana, like in any other developing country, were not only victims of climate change, but also effective agents of change, in relation to adaptation, mitigation, and disaster reduction strategies.

“Given their roles in society (concerning production and reproduction within their family and community), women have important knowledge, skills, and experiences for shaping the adaptation process and the search for better and safer communities.

“We believe that with continuous capacity building, training, and supporting the community mobilisation efforts and actions, especially for Ghanaian women, national climate change adaptation and mitigation measures will be localised and made more effective,” he explained.

Launching the hearing, Ms Gloria Kafui Amegah, climate change ambassador of the Environmental Health Club (EHC), a Tema-based (NGO), disclosed that women in low income countries often experienced difficult times whenever global warming occurs.

“In addition, women are the majority of the world’s farmers, producing between 60 to 80% of food in most developing nations. Drought, heat, floods, and the resulting dislocation, interrupt harvest cycles and deny women secure livelihoods. Given their central role in food production, this puts the household, community, and national food security at risk.

Despite this, women’s voices are still not being heard in debates around climate change at the local, national, regional, or international level, she noted.

source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201109290268.html

Women at receiving end of #climate change | The Asian Age

Although women are admittedly bearing the brunt of climate change, India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) has remained gender-blind and does not focus on gender issues.
Aditi Kapoor’s report Engendering the Climate for Change — Policies and Practices for Gender-Just Adaptation highlights that the four adaptation-focused missions remain largely techno-managerial in their orientation without focusing on how many women, than men, are engaged in growing vegetables, tea, coffee, paddy, livestock-rearing, fish processing and gathering medicinal herbs and fuel wood.


The report quotes from the findings of the latest Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA), stating that the increasing number of hot days and the decreasing number of cold days (during the pre-monsoon season over a period 1970-2005) had resulted in a decline in the spring snow cover of the western Himalayas. This changing climate, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, confirmed was adversely affecting dairy milk production and also resulting in a decline in fish breeding.


India was presently losing 1.6 million tonnes of milk production to climatic stresses in different parts of the country.


Further, up to 77 per cent of the forest areas are expected to shift affecting both biodiversity and livelihoods based on these forests. This would affect forest vegetation on whose products tribal women were dependent. Presently, these women were using almost 300 forest species for medicinal purposes and a shift in forest vegetation will adversely affect their livelihoods and health.


Working in the fields, women already have climate-related data but this data is not being analysed scientifically, Ms Kapoor maintained regretting that climate research interventions are male-biased.
She has quoted several examples to illustrate this point. High-yielding saline-resistant paddy varieties promoted by the government do not meet women requirements complained, Rita from village Chak-Pitambarpur, block Basanti, 24 South Parganas in West Bengal.


The reason for this Rita said was that “high yielding varieties were small in height and gave little residue whereas that was not the case with traditional paddy varieties whose longer stalks gave them extra bio-fuel.”


Women testimonies reveal that rising sea levels left them with less space on the beach for post-harvest activity including fish-processing. Fall in fish production was forcing them to search for other livelihood options.

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‘Climate change pushes poor women to prostitution, dangerous work’

The effects of climate change have driven women in communities in coastal areas in poor countries like the Philippines into dangerous work, and sometimes even the flesh trade, a United Nations official said.

Suneeta Mukherjee, country representative of the United Nations Food Population Fund (UNFPA), said women in the Philippines are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the country.

“Climate change could reduce income from farming and fishing, possibly driving some women into sex work and thereby increase HIV infection,” Mukherjee said during the Wednesday launch of the UNFPA annual State of World Population Report in Pasay City.

In the Philippines, small brothels usually pop up near the coastal areas where many women perform sexual services for transient seafarers. Often, these prostitutes are ferried to bigger ships by their pimps.

Based on the UNFPA report, there are 92 million Filipinos in the country as of 2009 and that number is expected to balloon to more than 146 million in the next 40 years.

Of the 92 million Filipinos, about 60 percent are living in coastal areas and depend on the seas for livelihood, said former Environment secretary Dr. Angel Alcala.

Alcala said that “we have already exceeded the carrying capacity of our marine environment.”

But as the sea’s resources are depleted due to overpopulation and overfishing, fishermen start losing their livelihood and women are forced to share the traditional role of the man in providing for the family.

Alacala, who also heads the Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management in Siliman University, said some women often pick out shellfish by the coastlines, which exposed to storm surges.

Women who can no longer endure this work often go out to find other jobs, while some are tempted to go into prostitution, Alcala added.

In an interview with the Inter Press News Agency, Marita Rodriguez of the Centre for Empowerment and Resource Development, Inc. said women are taking the brunt of climate change.

“Aside from their household chores and participation in fishing activity, they have to find additional sources of income like working as domestic helpers in affluent families,” she said.

The UNFPA noted that the temperature in the earth’s surface has risen 0.74 degrees Celsius in the past 100 years. The 10 warmest years globally since 1880 have also been recorded in the last 13 years.

“Slower population growth, for example, would help build social resilience to climate change’s impacts and would contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gas-emissions in the future,” the UNFPA report said.

The UNFPA suggested five measures to mitigate climate change and overpopulation:

  • Bring a better understanding of population dynamics, gender and reproductive health to climate change and environmental discussions at all levels;
  • Fully fund family planning services and contraceptive supplies within the framework of reproductive health and rights, and assure that low income is no barrier to access;
  • Prioritize research and date collection to improve the understanding of gender and population dynamics in climate change mitigation and adaptation;
  • Improve sex-disaggregation of date related to migration flows that are influenced by environmental factors and prepare now for increases in population movements resulting from climate change; and
  • Integrate gender considerations into global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.


Source: http://www.gmanews.tv/story/177346/climate-change-pushes-poor-women-to-prostitution-dangerous-work

Climate Conversations – Women must get their fair share of climate finance

By Nina Somera, GenderCC – Women for Climate Justice

At the end of April, a committee of countries chosen to work out the details of a U.N.-backed Green Climate Fund holds its first meeting in Mexico, to discuss how to get the fund up and running.

It faces some important questions: How to ensure the money goes to those more vulnerable to climate change? How to judge which projects are most effective and efficient? Where will the money come from, and who will decide where it’s allocated?

Much has been said on these fundamental issues which pit developing against developed countries. But further questions still need to be asked, particularly regarding women: What are the benefits of the Green Climate Fund to women? How to incorporate a gender perspective in decision making about the fund? How can the most vulnerable women access resources to build the resilience of their communities? How can the fund compensate women who’ve lost their few assets due to climate change?

Around the world, a large proportion of women still lack access to land, even as they contribute at least 50 percent of food production. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates they could produce as much as 80 to 90 percent of food in some regions, including sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

At the same time, the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (UNESCAP) says women and girls are 14 times more likely to be affected by disasters than men and boys. Following the 2004 Asian tsunami, for example, only 189 out of 676 survivors in the Indonesian village of Aceh Besar were women.

And since 2008, the global financial and food crises have pushed more women into informal jobs, including prostitution and sex work, which usually lack any form of state protection even for the most basic rights such as health. Such work is rarely counted in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The impacts of these inequities are likely to worsen with dwindling natural resources and a changing climate. The growing frequency of droughts and floods has left small farmers in deeper debt, forcing them to migrate to cities where the scramble for resources and opportunities is more intense.

Sea-level rise threatens to drive residents of coastal communities in Bangladesh and the Pacific from their homes. And as natural disasters seem to be occurring more frequently, a rising number of affected families are sliding below the poverty line.


Given the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls, it is critical that a substantial part of the Green Climate Fund be allocated for projects that can help them withstand and cope with the challenges they face.

This is not simply a question of charity for the vulnerable. Many women and their communities had already developed sustainable coping mechanisms – such as organic farming, mangrove conservation and rainwater harvesting – before climate financing came into the picture. These indigenous efforts deserve to be supported, scaled up and replicated where appropriate.

At least 30 percent of the new fund should be allocated for projects that directly benefit women. They could include reducing the walking distance to access water and sanitation; helping women secure land ownership and use it productively; supporting mass public transport to make travel safer and easier for women and girls, particularly in rural areas; promoting reproductive health services especially in the context of urban migration and disasters; funding resettlement sites for women-headed households that lose their homes to encroaching seas; and assisting mangrove conservation by all-women cooperatives.

Beyond this, women’s needs should be taken into account in all projects financed by the fund. Women must also have direct access to the money without having to go through an intermediary bank, in order to avoid fees and conditions. And the procedures for submitting proposals and reports should be simple enough to encourage women’s organisations to tap the fund through their national governments.


Unfortunately the climate talks have come to resemble trade negotiations where some parties demand reparations and plead for help, while others evade responsibility for their historical pollution. They are a battle between David, with the G77 and China group and the Alliance of Small Island States on one side, and Goliath, with developed countries, especially the United States, on the other. To genuinely tackle gender issues, we need to get beyond this dynamic.

Even among the ‘Davids’, there are those who make it difficult for women and girls to exercise their rights and freedoms. At the recent Bangkok climate talks, many developing countries did not cite gender balance in their vision for the fledgling Adaptation Committee. The main concern was to get as many seats as possible. Some also explicitly refused to make gender a criterion in the selection of adaptation projects.

Giving developing countries more leverage in the Adaptation Committee is legitimate. It could also be argued that having more women on the committee does not guarantee gender-sensitive governance.  But having an equal proportion of women on board is a big step in the right direction.

Making stronger statements on gender and climate financing is an imperative that cannot wait for power dynamics to be recalibrated. After all, climate change is already magnifying long-standing issues such as unfair trade, unequal access to land, violations of sexual and reproductive health rights, racial discrimination and gender inequality.

Gender is a fundamental issue that, when overlooked, can disempower communities and derail budding efforts to achieve human rights and equality. As Ana Pinto, a feminist who works with indigenous peoples in India’s Manipur state, once said, “When women are demanding that our voices be heard, we are not doing this for ourselves but for the community we take care of.”

For more information, visit the GenderCC website.


Women and the climate change

Recently, more than 115 world leaders gathered at the largest and most important United Nations meeting ever on fighting against global warming.

In fact, the United Nations Climate Change Conference through its Copenhagen Accord has failed to reach a deal on industrialized and emerging nations reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, although it has successfully set a goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius over the coming years, and developed nations made a financial commitment to help poor nations cope with the effects of climate change.

After all this time, most of the debate about climate change has revolved around countries’ relative responsibility for limiting the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and funding efforts to shift to low-carbon energy and other green technologies. Climate change is more than just an issue of energy efficiency or industrial carbon emissions; it is also about people, where and how they live, what they consume, and the rights and opportunities available to them.

It is therefore fundamental to reflect on how climate change will affect women, men, boys and girls differently around the world, within nations, and how individual behavior can undermine or contribute to the global effort to cool our warming world. Climate change will not only endanger lives and undermine livelihoods, it will also exacerbate the gap between rich and poor and amplify the inequities between women and men.

Prior to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published a book about the state of the world’s population in 2009 entitled, Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate. This publication explores the critical connections among population dynamics, reproductive health, women’s lives and climate change as they relate to greenhouse gas emissions and societies’ resilience against the impacts of climate change.

According to the report, international climate change agreements and national policies are more likely to succeed in the long run if they take into account population dynamics, family planning, gender relations, reproductive health care, women’s well-being and access to services and opportunities as these elements could influence the future course of climate change and affect how humanity adapts to rising seas, worsening storms and severe droughts.

The report shows that women have the power to mobilize against climate change, but this potential can only be realized through policies empowering women. It also shows the required support that would allow women to fully contribute to the adaptation and mitigation as well as build resilience to climate change.

Women are indeed among the most vulnerable to climate change, partly because in many countries they make up a larger share of the agricultural workforce and partly because they tend to have less access to income-earning opportunities than men. Women manage households and care for family members, which often limits their mobility and increases their vulnerability to sudden weather-related natural disasters.

Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes. Girls drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks. Such a cycle of deprivation, poverty and inequality undermines the social capital needed to deal effectively with climate change.

Women are currently suffering disproportionately as a consequence of climate change.

Environmentalists estimate that 70 percent of the poor, who are more vulnerable to environmental damage, are women. Women die in greater numbers in disasters than men, and they tend to die at younger ages, but there are few reliable studies to document this phenomena, largely because there has so far been little focus by the international community on the gender impact of natural disasters.

Localized case studies associated with a devastating 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh, the 2003 European heat wave, and the 2004 Asian tsunami nonetheless affirm the greater vulnerability of women.

Through sampling data from natural disasters in 141 countries between 1981 and 2002, economists Eric Neumayer and Thomas Plümper confirmed that natural disasters and their subsequent impact on average kill more women than men.

Furthermore, the condition of women surviving from disaster could be no better as they still have to stay at shelters with more problems such as sexual harassment, discrimination, violence and they have limited access related to their reproductive health rights.

In Lamreh shelter in Aceh for example, in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, hygiene kits for women were provided in a very limited number. Due to an emergency, a woman gave birth in an unsafe and unhygienic way; girls and women were raped, trafficking and discriminated against. With the 2006 Lapindo Mud case in East Java, women were left with tremendous problems as their specific needs were not prioritized and they were vulnerable to trafficking.

Nowadays, women in poor and wealthy countries alike are increasingly working either directly on climate change, on the global stage or in their communities, or they are struggling and strategizing to prevail amid deteriorating environmental conditions. Since women are usually responsible for household work, women in affluent countries have substantial power to reduce their families’ carbon footprint and environmental impact.

At the same time, women in developing countries have the power to reject the consumption pattern modeled on more affluent countries and to craft their own alternatives. And women everywhere have the power to teach the next generation about the importance of sustainability. In addressing the issue of climate change, the Indonesian government for example has been conducting gender mainstreaming strategies in relation to the environment, disaster relief and social conflict supported by running gender-responsive programs. Women’s and environmental NGOs in Indonesia have also been working together in facilitating women to manage local resources in their regions by providing technical assistance.

The mandates of governments and other institutions to consider women’s circumstances and gender relations have been established in declarations of rights and other agreements predating the world’s current focus on climate change. The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women commits ratifying nations to conform their legislation and legal system to gender equality and to eliminate all distinctions, exclusions or restrictions made on the basis of sex.

The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action placed sexual and reproductive health at the center of women’s equality with men and their dignity and capacities as human beings. The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action called for gender mainstreaming in development and human affairs generally, meaning a fundamental consideration of differential impacts of policies and programs for women and men as the rule rather than the exception.

The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has made an important step forward by putting women as important actors in ensuring their communities’ ability to cope with and adapt to climate change. The UNFCCC Secretariat is newly committed to taking gender into consideration in its deliberations, and the Global Environment Facility is now committed to assessing the impacts of its investments on women. The percentage of women at the negotiating tables of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC appears to be improving slightly, it varied from 15 percent to 23 percent in the 1990s and in recent years has been around 28 percent.

It is thus timely the climate debate should continuously take into account the human and gender dimensions of every aspect of the problem. Women must be involved not only in negotiations and planning, but also in implementation involving a vast array of institutions. Women’s voices will need to be forceful and heard, from tribal councils to national energy ministries to the halls of the United Nations. As stated by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai of Kenya, there is unlikely to be climate equity without gender equity.


Women suffer more than men during disasters, forum speakers report

Women are more likely to die in natural or man-made disasters than men. If women do survive, they suffer humiliation and harassment in evacuation camps due to their gender. In her home country of Bangladesh, many women died during a flood in 2001 because their traditional long dress and burka hindered their movements and prevented them from escaping the rising waters, according to Jean D’ Cunha, regional program director of the United Nations Fund for Women based in Thailand.

Bangladeshi women also find it hard to climb walls, trees, and roofs because they are culturally forbidden to do these “manly” activities in their daily lives, D’ Cunha said. Survivors who are sent to evacuation camps are sexually harassed due to lack of privacy and separate toilets for women, she added. D’Cunha and other resource persons reported these cases in separate sessions about gender, climate change, and disaster issues during the three-day Asia-Pacific NGO Forum on Beijing +15 at Miriam College in Quezon City that ended last Saturday. Humaira Mumtaz Shaikh of the non-government organization Hum Pakistani reported about the displacement created by Taliban atrocities in Pakistan, saying gender-specific needs of women are overlooked by people who manage the camps. One oversight she mentioned was that “no one thought of sanitary napkins in the relief efforts in the camps.” Regina Yuching Lin of the Garden of Hope Foundation in Taiwan, a country that experiences more than 100 earthquakes and 10 typhoons every year, said there is a need to “smash the myth” that women are not particularly vulnerable than other groups during disasters. She also said it is not true that gender does not matter during disaster relief delivery and the rebuilding process, and that unlike ethnicity or local politics, gender does not have to be taken into account during the decision-making process. Some 1,000 women leaders from Asia and the Pacific attended the forum, which looks back on the landmark Beijing Conference in 1995 that paved the way for global action on women’s concerns. The forum was organized by Southeast Asia Women’s Watch in preparation for the global NGO Forum in February next year in New York, prior to the 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Gender data needed According to Country Director Lilian Mercado of the aid group Oxfam-Philippines, six out of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have counted almost 350,000 fatalities and missing persons from disasters over the last five years. “How many of the affected are women?” she asked. “No one is asking about the situation of women.” Mercado said women survivors of disasters have expressed concern about child safety, distribution practices that could ‘exclude’ or add burdens on them, lack of efforts to address the specific needs of pregnant and lactating mothers, threat of forced relocation, and the breakdown of community protection mechanisms such as the village council for the protection of children in certain areas. She said some strategies that can be used to resolve the problems of women in disaster situations include the collection of gender-disaggregated data, using gender analysis in designing relief efforts, and protecting beneficiaries from sexual exploitation. Mercado urged policy makers to consider gender issues in risk reduction studies, promote the rights of women against coercion and deprivation, and create linkages between humanitarian agencies and women’s groups so they can function more effectively at the local and international levels. – GMANews.TV