By Sohara Mehroze Shachi, Domoina Ratovozanany, and Dizzanne Billy
In developing countries, women are witnessing the nexus between global warming and gender issues firsthand. Their survival is often highly dependent on land and water resources, leaving them vulnerable.
Climate change is not just an environmental issue, but one of social justice, equality and human rights, all issues related to gender issues.
The female perspective should have been fully integrated into the Paris Agreement, which emerged from COP21, especially the empowerment of women, in addition to providing a response and other gender issues such as the vulnerability of rural women.
The COP21 (21st Conference of the Parties) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, took place from November 30 to 12 this month in the French capital.
In the draft stages, gender issues were treated as an accessory element that could be removed and almost all parties ignored and got it wrong.
Asia, the Caribbean and Africa are three of the regions most vulnerable to climate variability and, although they are responsible for a small part of global warming, women bear the brunt of its severe consequences.
Millions of people in Asia are extremely vulnerable to the phenomenon, especially women, due to traditional gender roles. In many rural areas, their mobility is very limited, as they are frowned upon by working outside the home.
While men from regions affected by climate variability tend to migrate to cities or other less vulnerable regions in search of work, women remain to take care of the home and common children. This confinement translates into economic dependency and lack of access to information, such as early warnings, which contributes to their enormous vulnerability.
On that continent, women tend to be in charge of more climate-sensitive activities, such as collecting water and preparing food, which increases their vulnerability.
Research by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has concluded that women and girls are responsible for fetching water, for which they have to travel long distances.
With the increasing frequency and intensity of floods, it is common for women to routinely have to cross flooded areas to fetch water and prepare food, exposing them to risks from drowning to snake bites to skin diseases.
In the other half of the world, women endure similar situations. In the Caribbean, many households are mainly matriarchal, and they are the ones with the greatest need for adaptation measures and mitigation of global warming.
They are also responsible for household care tasks and are impacted by food insecurity and water scarcity. Rural women are particularly vulnerable, especially small producers, marginalized women farmers and rural workers.
Whether the shortage of water and food is due to the increasing number and intensity of hurricanes or drought, the chances of leading a decent life are neither high nor better. Understanding this situation is important for the good design and execution of adaptation strategies.
“Agriculture needed more visibility in the negotiations,” observed the president of the Network of Rural Women Producers of Jamaica, Mildred Crawford.
“Women play a role in the food chain and need funds to assist small farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Women's groups are already organized, so incentives can help them control carbon waste in their communities, ”she added.
The Caribbean is going through its worst drought in five years.
According to Mary Robinson, former Prime Minister of Ireland, who also served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the draft of the Paris Agreement should focus on gender issues to ensure women have access to climate funds. , renewable technologies and adaptability.
In fact, climate campaigns should not focus only on reducing emissions, carbon trading and technology transfer, but should try to go further.
Furthermore, they must bear in mind that the majority of farmers in developing countries are women, and adaptation especially involves them. Gender issues are cross-cutting, not used for convenience.
Women in developing countries must be empowered to play more meaningful roles in the fight against climate change, as they have much to lose.
Kalyani Raj, responsible member of the All India Women's Conference, argued that it is crucial to give the most vulnerable female population a voice and include them in policy planning.
“Many women developed very small-scale adaptation approaches, traditional knowledge and indigenous community solutions that are not scaled up,” she explained. "Policies should focus on expanding that, rather than proposing uniform measures to adapt to climate change," he added.
In Africa, the gender impact of climate change is primarily related to agriculture, food security and natural disasters.
According to the 2011 Economic Report of the African Development Bank (BDA), women represent 40 percent or more of workers in the agricultural sector in 46 of the continent's 53 countries. That sector of the economy is considered vulnerable because it generally does not include formal jobs with secure income and contracts.
“The poor are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the majority of the 1.5 billion people living on a dollar a day or less are women,” says the State of World Population 2009, prepared by the Fund for United Nations population.
In addition, in a sample of 141 countries, it was concluded that, between 1981 and 2002, the gender bias in people killed by natural disasters is directly linked to the economic and social rights of women. In such cases, in less equitable societies, more women die than men.
The claim of rural women is a reality that we must face. However, we must recognize that they are not just victims, they are powerful agents of change.
The female population must be included in decision-making processes so that it can contribute its unique experience and knowledge, since any intervention related to climate change that excludes its perspective, as well as any policy that omits gender issues, is doomed to failure.
Translated by Verónica Firme
Inter Press Service - IPS Venezuela