|Demand of the question|
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Discuss the impact of climate change on women rights.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change especially in situations of poverty. Women are often responsible for gathering and producing food, collecting water and sourcing fuel for heating and cooking. With climate change, these tasks are becoming more difficult. Extreme weather events such as droughts and floods have a greater impact on the poor and most vulnerable– 70% of the world’s poor are women.
Impact of climate change on women rights:
- Lack of resources: The inequality and discrimination experienced by marginalised girls and young women are amplified by climate change. These girls will feel the greatest impacts but will not have the information and resources they need to cope.
- Long distance travels: Women are also more affected by drought and water shortages, often bearing the burden of having to spend significant time travelling to distant water resources and returning home to provide water for their families. In East Africa, drought has resulted in pastoral farmers having to travel significantly further to find water.
- Sexual assaults: In the aftermath of disasters, women are more likely than men to be displaced, to be sexually assaulted, to be victims of violence and to face other human rights violations.
- High vulnerability: Characteristics such as age, levels of poverty, ethnicity and marginalisation in combination with gender intersect to result in higher vulnerability for women.
- Food security: Girls are also more likely than boys to be provided with less food during times of food scarcity, thus making them more susceptible to malnutrition and diseases, particularly vector-borne diseases that are made more prevalent by climate change.
- Limited livelihood options: Societal norms have led to limited livelihood options for women who depend on resources that are affected by climate change.
- Migration: While men are able to migrate to find work elsewhere with higher wages, women are not able to relocate due to family caretaking commitments. Women are thus obligated to work for lower wages due to their family responsibilities, resulting in income insecurity and inequality.
- Gender-responsive approach: It is critical that all climate action takes a meaningful gender-responsive approach. This means moving beyond efforts to ensure that women and men are equally represented on discussion panels, or that projects and programmes benefit similar numbers of men and women.
- Addressing underlying social issues: We must address underlying structural power relations and socio-economic marginalisation that lead to women around the world being more significantly affected by climate change through awareness generation.
- Recognition: Recognising the important contributions of women as decision makers, stakeholders, educators, carers and experts across sectors and at all levels can lead to successful, long-term solutions to climate change.
- Climate Change Gender Action Plans: Investing in participatory, multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral Climate Change Gender Action Plans can help countries to develop comprehensive action that integrates gender concerns and builds on women’s unique knowledge and perspectives.
- Decision making: It is important to ensure equal space and resources for women and men to participate in climate change decision making and action at all levels.
Women are still a largely untapped resource. Restricted land rights, lack of access to financial resources, training and technology, and limited access to political decision-making spheres often prevent them from playing a full role in tackling climate change. Despite women being disproportionately affected by climate change, they are crucial to climate change adaptation and mitigation and must be involved in decision making.