Archive for October, 2011

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.”



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.


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.