Women Play An Important Role In Mitigating Climate Change
With natural disasters and extreme weather happening at an increasing frequency, the impact of climate change is no longer an abstract concept. How and what to do about climate change is complex; it involves changing the human footprint and taking mitigating actions. Tackling a series of social, economic, and political changes and challenges. Under the threat of climate change, women will face greater health, safety, security, and financial burdens. On the other hand, women contribute to the maintenance of communities and the management of natural resources that play a positive role in adapting to and mitigating climate change, but people often underestimate and overlook them.
What is climate vulnerability?
Climate vulnerability refers to an inability to cope with the adverse effects of climate change and extreme weather events. The most vulnerable people tend to be those living in countries or regions that are highly prone to climate change; dependent on natural resources as a source of livelihood.
70% of the world’s poor are women. 39% of women currently work in the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sectors. Only 14% of women own agricultural lands (UN Women data in 2020). They lack access to financial resources, training, technology, and decision-making power. It means that, compared with men, women are more vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change.
For example, due to labour division and the concept of gender in society, women, in addition to participating in economic production, also spend time on “family care work”. In many developing countries and regions, women are responsible for collecting household supplies like drinking water and fuel. As a result of climate change, extreme weather events such as droughts and heavy precipitation lead to women spending more time and energy obtaining family supplies, and it will cause their labour hours and costs to increase. Climate change will cause more diseases, and in many developing countries, women have less access to medical treatment than men.
What is the capability of women in climate change?
Women will be disproportionately affected by climate change, but their non-professional contribution to climate change has been largely ignored because women have more practical experience in adapting to changing climatic conditions, it is still a largely untapped resource. Unleashing women’s knowledge and capacity is an important opportunity for effective climate change solutions that benefit all.
- Women play an important role in environmental risk management, climate mitigation and adaptation.
As the main labourers engaged in agricultural work, they understand symbiotic relationships with ecosystems and can recognize the structure of ecosystems and the functions of specific species. Involving women in decision-making on climate change will help develop effective adaptation programs and strengthen the resilience of societies.
- Women play an important role in mitigating food crises.
According to the survey, women are responsible for 70%-80% of food production in South Africa, 65% in Asia and 45% in Latin America. With the formation of the greenhouse effect, food safety will become a difficult problem. Women need more opportunities to learn professional farming skills to cope with the impact of climate change on food. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30% which could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5-4%. (GENDER AND CLIMATE CHANGE, 2015, IUCN)
- Women play an important role in health care.
As the primary caregiver in most households, this responsibility will be even more challenging in the future. Climate change will affect drinking water quality, and viruses and their transmission vectors will also become more diverse. If women had more access to knowledge, they would enhance their ability to meet this challenge.
What should we do?
Women’s roles are important in response to climate change, but climate change intensifies the lack of resources. Under such conditions, women’s livelihoods will be even more unstable, which also means that governments and development agencies for local intervention and resettlement plans are likely to ignore the women’s economic participation. This is coupled with the lack of local women to participate in decision-making and the opportunity to voice their concerns. These factors have led to long-term neglect of their interests and needs and have had a negative impact on climate change mitigation and adaptation. We need to increase gender equality and the impact of women’s empowerment on climate change and intervene in advance to address future problems.
Four areas have been identified as critical building blocks in response to climate change: mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and financing. We need to help women get involved in all these blocks.
- Mitigation: Use women’s experiences and strategies in climate change mitigation to implement projects such as afforestation. Take the GEF-supported hillside reforestation project in El Agustino, Peru, which supported 100 women to plant Tara trees on 18,000 m3 of land. According to generations of Peruvian women, these small legumes have more than medicinal properties. Their strong roots also help hold the soil in place and prevent landslides.
- Adaptation: Help the poor, especially poor women, build the capacity to respond to climate change. Increase the awareness, abilities, self-confidence and motivation of women working to address the issue of climate change. At the same time, it values the outstanding role of women in adapting to climate change and recognizes and utilizes women’s leadership in disaster risk management for the benefit of all
- Technology transfer: Increase women’s access to resources, knowledge, and new technology. Governments and non-governmental organizations, institutions, and research institutions should ensure that local women and male consumers have access to climate information so that women and men can be adequately informed about climate change mitigation, response, and adaptation. Technological development related to climate change should consider the specific priorities, needs, and roles of women and make full use of their knowledge and expertise, including indigenous knowledge and traditional practices.
- Financing: In particular, investing in participatory, multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral gender action plans on climate change can help countries develop comprehensive actions that consider gender issues and are based on the unique knowledge and perspectives of women. The active participation of women in setting funding criteria and allocating resources for climate change initiatives is critical. A gender analysis of all budget lines and financial instruments for climate change is needed to ensure gender-sensitive investments in adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer, and capacity-building programmes.
- In addition, decision-making power. Ensuring women’s access to decision-making, focusing on women’s local knowledge and experience, and establishing capacity-building programs to enhance women’s adaptation to climate change. They should be equally represented in decision-making structures to enable them to contribute their unique and valuable perspectives and expertise on climate change issues. Women can make a substantive contribution through their knowledge and experience on issues related to natural resource management. Protect women’s livelihoods, health and safety, identify and respond to the risks of gender-based violence, recognize and reduce the burden of unpaid care work by women, and ensure that women’s and men’s voices, needs and interests are represented in planning processes when making the decision.
- Women at the frontline of climate change – Gender risks and hopes, UNEP
- Gender,climate&security, 2020, United Nations Environment Programme, UN Women, UNDP and UNDPPA/PBSO
- Gender Equality And Climate Change – Why consider gender equality when taking action on climate change? , Canadian International Development Agency
- Gender and climate change – Evidence and experience, CGIAR?
- Gender equality in the midst of climate change – what can the region’s machinery for the advancement of women do? ,Lorena Aguilar Revelo