Archive | Gender Issues

History Was Not Made in Copenhagen

Posted on 19 December 2009 by editor

Climate activists arrested by the Danish police. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/TerraViva

Climate activists arrested by the Danish police. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/TerraViva

By Stephen Leahy

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) There is no Copenhagen climate treaty. History was not made here and no deal was sealed.

After two years of intense negotiations by 194 countries, what is abundantly clear is the enormous divide between the rich and poor countries. Poor countries want deep cuts in emissions by the industrialised world, and the latter continue to resist significant cuts and legally binding targets. Continue Reading

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El reloj climático corre para América Latina

Posted on 17 December 2009 by editor

La agropecuaria será el sector más afectado por el calentamiento. Crédito: Sociedad de Criadores de Hereford del Uruguay

La agropecuaria será el sector más afectado por el calentamiento. Crédito: Sociedad de Criadores de Hereford del Uruguay

Por Daniela Estrada – Tierramérica *

COPENHAGUE (Tierramérica) América Latina debería aprovechar el tiempo de que dispone para buscar un nuevo modelo de producción, consumo y distribución adaptado a las realidades del cambio climático. Pero sin un acuerdo mundial para reducir las emisiones contaminantes, para 2100 podría perder casi 137 por ciento de su producto interno bruto (PIB).

Esa es la conclusión del estudio “La economía del cambio climático en América Latina y el Caribe”, presentado el miércoles por la Cepal en la COP-15, que se desarrolla hasta este viernes en la capital danesa. Continue Reading

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Climate Testimony

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

Farmers from across Africa share their stories on how climate changes have changed their lives for the worst during Pan African Climate hearings held in Cape Town, South Africa.


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Danish Girls March For Their African Sisters

Posted on 15 December 2009 by editor

Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

By Mantoe Phakathi
COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – As they walked down the streets with containers of water resting on their heads – an unusual sight on the streets of Copenhagen – a group of Danish school girls attracted a lot of attention from passersby.

But these girls were not seeking attention for self gratification – they were fighting for an African cause. Continue Reading

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Retratos: Desde el último rincón del mundo

Posted on 12 December 2009 by editor


Alicia Muñoz. Crédito: Stephen Leahy

Alicia Muñoz. Crédito: Stephen Leahy/IPS

Por Daniela Estrada

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) La chilena Alicia Muñoz, integrante de La Vía Campesina, el movimiento mundial de pequeños y medianos agricultores, trabajadores y mujeres rurales y pueblos indígenas, lleva una semana en Copenhague participando en diferentes actividades del Klimaforum, la reunión de la sociedad civil paralela a la COP-15. Continue Reading

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Adaptation Funds Must Reach Africa’s Women Farmers

Posted on 12 December 2009 by editor

200811_SwaziInputTradeFairs_EditedBy Mantoe Phakathi

COPENHAGEN (IPS/Terraviva) – One of the key components of global action on climate change will be measures to adapt to changes that are already unavoidable. The Global Gender and Climate Alliance argues that specific attention be paid to the needs of women.

“With climate change taking away their source of livelihood because of the erratic weather patterns preventing them from farming, women must find another means of making a living,” said Rachel Harris, the media coordinator for GGCA.

Women make up a majority of smallholder farmers in Africa and in other developing countries. In contrast to the options open to many men, few women can respond to drought, for example, by relocating to cities or other rural areas in search of work. Women are often tied down by the need to care for children, or social obstacles to mobility; they are also frequently without even the smallest cash savings of their own or assets to sell to bridge hard times.

Rodney Cooke, the director of the Technical Advisory Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), admitted that previous funding mechanisms overlooked women farmers. 
“We’ve made mistakes before,” said Cooke. “Women make up 70 percent of smallholder farmers, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, but somehow funding targets were disproportionately directed towards men.”

Cooke’s employer, IFAD, is the U.N. agency charged with financially supporting rural livelihoods; the organisation was set up in response to a crisis of food security in the 1970s.
Cooke said there were no clear guidelines attached to previous funding on how women would benefit.

The alliance isn’t waiting for a deal to be reached to complain that gender blind funding is failing the women who may need it most. Instead they are initiating proposals that will ensure women are the agents of change, able to create and adopt new agricultural options and explore other entrepreneurial ventures as a way of adapting to climate change.

Constance Okelletti and Rachel Harris at the GGCA stand in Copenhagen. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Constance Okelletti and Rachel Harris at the GGCA stand in Copenhagen. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Constance Okeletti, a smallholder farmer from Uganda, said women have a lot of knowledge useful for adaptation because they work with the environment through their household duties: include fetching water, gathering firewood and fruits and farming.

“We’ve been trying to adapt since climate change started to affect us. With the money we can do more,” she said.

Okelleti observed that most development aid to African countries does not penetrate to the women at grassroots level because there are no specific provisions of how much of it should go to the poor.

“We don’t know whether it’s eaten by politicians or the workers in the cities,” said Okelleti, who is representing a network of 40 groups of small-scale farmers in Uganda.

“Women fail to hold those in authority to account because we don’t even know how much was meant for helping out women,” she continued.

“We expect the final text of the declaration to emphasise the percentage of the funds that are expected to assist women projects so that they adapt to climate change,” said Okelleti.

GGCA, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has come up with a women’s Green Business Initiative to promote women’s entrepreneurship opportunities in the sphere of climate change adaptation and mitigation to try and tap into the climate change funding.

“For example through the initiative a local women’s group in Rwanda uses a voluntary carbon credit grant to implement a bamboo project for income generation and environmental protections,” said Lucy Wanjiru UNDP’s gender and climate change and GGCA.

She said with funding from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Adaptation Fund, and new money coming from reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) schemes, women could be the ones accessing funds to start ecologically sustainable projects – be that planting trees or managing eco-tourism ventures – and earn a living.

“Agriculture is the sector most vulnerable to climate change,” said Cooke. “An extra two million people in sub-Saharan Africa are going to be affected by water shortages and the majority of these are women.”

If a deal reached at the U.N. Conference on Climate Change is to achieve its objectives, he said, it will have to incorporate a gendered perspetive.


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Reducing Emissions With Improved Charcoal Stoves

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

Charcoal stoves made of recycled metal.

Charcoal stoves made of recycled metal. Credit: Impact Carbon

By Joshua Kyalimpa

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) When Impact Carbon’s team leader Evan Haigler got involved with a stove improvement project for Uganda, his dream was to make efficient and affordable wood and charcoal stoves that created less smoke.

Six years later, his dream has come to fruition, and a cleverly-designed clay and steel stove is on the market.

The compact centre of the improved stove is made of clay, which contains and concentrates a maximum amount of heat from a smaller amount of charcoal than a standard recycled metal stove.

The stoves also improve indoor air quality by producing less black carbon or soot due to inefficient combustion.

Traditional charcoal stoves produce large amounts of black carbon or soot produced during cooking. This is particularly dangerous to the health of the women and children who spend long hours in kitchens in Africa. Globally, indoor air pollution from burning of biomass in smoky, inefficient stoves leads to nearly three million premature deaths each year.

This is according to David Hanrahan, formerly head of environment programs and the World Bank, and now head of operations for Blacksmith Institute, an independent environmental group working on pollution in the developing world.

Haigler and other scientists have been speaking about the benefits of using the improved charcoal stoves at the U.N Conference on Climate Change conference here in Copenhagen.

His group, Impact Carbon, works to develop and distribute improved stoves and other clean energy technologies at the household level. The aim is to protect the environment and people’s health as well as save income that would otherwise be spent on fuel.

The holder of an MS in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, Evan Haigler at Impact Carbon partnered with a local business, UGASTOVES, and carbon offset group JP Morgan Climate Care to develop the Efficient Cooking with Ugastoves project.

The outcome was a stove that reduced charcoal and wood use by up to two-thirds.

“UGASTOVES aim not only at reducing the carbon emissions, but the cutting down of trees to get the charcoal.”

The UGASTOVES have so far reached 300,000 families in Uganda’s major towns who Haigler says are now saving over 80 U.S. dollars each on charcoal a year, enough to buy a bicycle.

A similar project run jointly by Enterprise Works Ghana, the Shell Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development is building and installing high-efficiency cooking stoves to replace the stones that are traditionally used to support a pot above an open fire in Ghana.

In 2008, 68,000 new stoves, each costing 30 to 50 dollars, were sold in Accra and Kumasi, potentially providing cleaner kitchen air for approximately 400,000 women, including 160,000 children.

The locally made Gyapa Charcoal and Wood Stoves reduce levels of harmful soot in homes by 40 to 45 percent. Since 2002, the joint project has worked to create a network of local craftspeople and entrepreneurs who can profitably manufacture the metal stoves and their ceramic liners.

Demand for the stoves is strong, driven by a public awareness campaign on the health effects of cooking fire.

By the end of the year what started as small charcoal stove improvement idea will have sold at least 100,000 stoves in Ghana alone, and thousands others in Uganda and other parts of the world.

The version of this story uploaded Dec. 10 2009 incorrectly the potential reduction in carbon emissions by the UGASTOVE model, as well as implying Impact Carbon was involved in a similar initiative in Ghana. IPS regrets the errors.


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Women Not Just ‘Vulnerable Group’

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

Dorah Lebelo: women should not be perceived only as victims of climate change. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi

Dorah Lebelo: women should not be perceived only as victims of climate change. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi

By Mantoe Phakathi

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva)  While climate change affects everyone, women bear a heavier burden – and gender activists say they should have a greater say in planning the response to climate change.

Dorah Lebelo says millions of women around the world are subsistence farmers and erratic weather patterns have affected their ability to feed themselves, let alone produce a surplus to sell. Women, Lebelo continues, are very much dependent on natural resources such as water, firewood, or wild fruits which sell.

Lebelo is a member of Gender CC, a global women’s rights network that is lobbying for the incorporation of a gender perspective into the final document of the climate change meeting at the Danish capital.

“The advancement of women, their leadership and meaningful participation, and their engagement as equal stakeholders in all climate-related processes and implementation must be guaranteed,” she says.

Gender CC wants the deal to explicitly highlight the rights of women and children in the context of climate change.

Gotelind Alber, a researcher for the U.N.’s agency for housing, UN-HABITAT, has studied climate change policies in many countries including South Africa and Kenya and found them silent on gender. Women, she says, are classed “as just vulnerable groups in the policies, something that is vague.”

Alber, who presented her findings at a workshop on gender, cities and climate change, said women in city slums are more vulnerable after natural disasters – women are often last to hear warnings of coming disasters, unable to move quickly while safeguarding children in their care, and in the breakdown of order that typically follows, exposed to violence.

“We need to acknowledge the special vulnerabilities of women which are caused by climate change,” said Alber.

Gender CC – Women for Climate Justice wants the negotiated agreement to fully account for gendered questions on adaptation, mitigation, technology sharing, financing and capacity building.

This, according to Catherine Mungai from Kenya, will ensure that local and national governments in every country explicitly plan for women and children in their climate change policies. Right now, said Mungai, women and children’s protection are very much absent in the most climate change policies.

“A declaration with a clear stand on women and children’s rights is going to help us NGOs hold our governments accountable,” said Mungai.

For now, said Lebelo, the negotiations on climate change are not reflecting the issues that are affecting women and children’s rights which is a serious oversight in the whole process. She said although issues such as loss of biodiversity, loss of forest tenure, rising temperatures, disease, agriculture, and food insecurity are discussed, nobody seems to be acknowledging the effects on women and children these matters have.

“We’ll continue lobbying right up to the end of this conference because we want justice,” she said.

Lebelo said women should not be perceived only as victims of climate change; they should also be part of making decisions about this global phenomenon.

“Women have been able to adapt through the use of indigenous knowledge. They just need to be involved from the lowest to the highest level of decision making,” said Lebelo.

A deal that fails to account for gender, concluded the activists, will be no deal at all.


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COP15 Is a “False Solutions Fair”

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor


Miriam Nobre. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS.

Miriam Nobre. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS.

Daniela Estrada interviews Brazilian feminist MIRIAM NOBRE


COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – The climate change conference looks like a “big solutions fair,” where everyone avoids discussing the root problem, which is the need to change the model of development, Miriam Nobre, coordinator of the secretariat of the World March of Women, told IPS.

Nobre, a Brazilian agricultural engineer and feminist, arrived in Copenhagen Tuesday to take part in Klimaforum09, the civil society summit held in parallel to the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which opened Monday and will run until Dec. 18.

The World March of Women, headed by Nobre, is an international women’s rights movement created in 2000, which is currently active in 71 countries.

The movement’s first campaign was aimed at combating poverty and violence against women, and for 2010 it’s planning its third international action, targeting four objectives: achieving economic independence for women; ending violence against women; promoting peace and demilitarisation; and preserving and developing the common good and public services.

Before sitting down to talk with TerraViva, Nobre participated in a coordination meeting with representatives of other movements and NGOs in the colourful Klimaforum, where hundreds of talks, displays, exhibits, documentary screenings, and musical and theatre shows are programmed.

TERRAVIVA: What proposals or demands are you bringing to Copenhagen?

MN: We’ve come to Copenhagen in coordination with Vía Campesina and Friends of the Earth to denounce the false solutions that are put forward for climate change, including monoculture, agrofuel production, and the privatisation of nature, through, for example, carbon credits.

We’re also meeting with other organisations, such as Jubilee South, that work on the issue of climate debt.

Our presence here also has to do with a sense of urgency. There’s a feeling that something has to be done now, but that the urgency can’t lead us to be strong-armed into accepting a bad agreement that ignores class, country and gender inequalities in the issue of climate change.

TV: What activities will you participate in?

MN: We have a workshop called “Feminists Struggling Against Climate Change and Privatisation of the Environment”, where we’ll examine the state of negotiations, because women are major political actors in this issue.

We will also look at the links and conflicts between the environmentalist and women’s movements and at how women are experiencing the effects of climate change and the forms of resistance and alternatives they’re building.

We will also be holding another activity with the Global Forest Coalition, on the subject of food and energy sovereignty as real solutions to climate change.

TV: Why are women key political actors in climate change negotiations?

MN: There’s a whole host of experiences that women farmers and fisherwomen can contribute, because they haven’t abandoned their traditional ways of producing food, so they offer a true alternative to our fossil-fuel- and oil-dependent societies.

And there’s also the connection we say exists between the fragmentation and commodification of women’s bodies and the fragmentation and commodification of territories themselves.

TV: How do you see the global negotiations at Copenhagen so far?

MN: My first impression was that many have come with the idea of selling their solutions – agrofuels, carbon credits, etc.

I got the feeling that it’s a large fair with everyone hawking their solutions, without really touching on the problem, which is the urgent need for profound changes in the system. We need to change the model, to change the way we organise production and consumption.

It’s like everyone just wants to go on avoiding what we really have to discuss, which is what needs to be done.

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“Feria de falsas soluciones”

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Miriam Nombre. Crédito: Daniela Estrada/IPS

Miriam Nobre. Crédito: Daniela Estrada/IPS

Por Daniela Estrada

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) La conferencia sobre cambio climático parece una “gran feria de soluciones”, donde la gente evita hablar del problema de fondo, que es el cambio del modelo de desarrollo, dijo a TerraViva Miriam Nobre, coordinadora del secretariado de la Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres.

Nobre, ingeniera agrónoma y feminista brasileña, arribó el martes a Copenhague para participar en el Klimaforum, la cumbre de la sociedad civil paralela a la COP-15, inaugurada el lunes y que se extenderá hasta el 18 de este mes. Continue Reading

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Latin American Women Want Change in Trade Rules

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Guatemalan indigenous girls. Credit: Danilo Valladares/IPS

Guatemalan indigenous girls. Credit: Danilo Valladares/IPS


Daniela Estrada

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – “We don’t need to change the climate, we need to change trade,” said Brazilian activist Marta Lago at Klimaforum, the civil society meeting held in parallel with the climate change summit in the Danish capital.

Lago and Norma Maldonado from Guatemala, who belong to the International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN), criticised the free trade treaties signed by Latin American countries with the United States and the European Union in a panel Tuesday.

They said free trade agreements accentuate poverty and the loss of biodiversity, as a result of megaprojects for the extraction of natural resources which use water intensively, spew out pollution, and exacerbate the effects of climate change.

Examples are mining projects, construction of large hydroelectric dams, and plantations of monoculture crops and genetically modified (GM) organisms.

Free trade deals include strict regulation of intellectual property rights for patented GM seeds, which harms small farmers, creating food insecurity in poor communities that already suffer from harvest variability because of global warming.

“Where there is biodiversity, where there is wealth, where there is culture, that’s where corporate interests flock,” Maldonado, deputy head of Ecumenical Services for Christian Development in Central America (SEFCA), an organisation working with women and young people for community development and political effectiveness, told TerraViva.

SEFCA’s work covers a wide range of issues, focusing on the recovery of traditional farming practices, the carving out of local markets for products, the improvement of the diets of people in rural communities and the provision of training for international trade negotiations.

“The trade treaties give (foreign countries) a legal claim to plunder our natural resources. We cannot separate the trade treaties from their everyday effects: the privatisation of water; the loss of land; the mining companies that use 250,000 gallons of water a minute for free, while polluting our rivers,” she said.

“Guatemala was the birthplace of many food crops, and yet its people are undernourished. Children are dying of hunger. How can we have a country that produces food, but all of it for export, to sell to the great international markets?” she demanded.

In her view, the EU “gives with one hand,” through development aid, “and takes away with the other,” by means of its trade treaties.

In Guatemala, SEFCA works with Q’eqchi’ indigenous communities that are recovering degraded coffee plantations.

Women bear the brunt of climate change effects, Lago and Maldonado said, as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) stated in its latest report.

SEFCA is making a documentary to raise awareness on the water crisis, which includes footage, screened at Klimaforum, showing rural women who spend four hours a day fetching water from streams around their communities.

According to Maldonado, “the problem of water has been, and will continue to be,” a women’s issue, “for cultural reasons,” because they are the ones who do most of the cooking, bathing of children and washing of clothes in their homes.

“Lack of access to water adds to women’s burden,” already a heavy one, she said.

“Women take four hours to fetch two gallons of water at a time, and then we want them to further their education and participate in community affairs. What time do they have for this?” she asked.

How much do Guatemalan women supported by SEFCA know about climate change? According to Maldonado, they are unaware of factors like greenhouse gas emissions and other scientific aspects. “Actually, I don’t understand them very well myself, yet,” she admitted.
“What we are very well aware of is that there are constant landslides and floods, while we women can’t even swim, that the weather is getting hotter all the time, that the rhythm of the crops is altered – sometimes the coffee is ripe in January and previously it was in October – and the cycles and agricultural calendars are upset, and we don’t have enough water,” said the activist.

“We may not know what a carbon sink is, but we do know that our land is being taken from us,” said Maldonado, who said she has been threatened and intimidated for her opposition to free trade agreements in Guatemala.

“A wave of repression swept the country when the first free trade treaty between Guatemala and the United States was signed. Since then there has been systematic persecution of the leadership and raids on organisations (opposed to the trade accords). They searched my house, injured two colleagues, took our computers: we are on their blacklist,” she complained.

Maldonado is in Copenhagen, but she said she “expects nothing” from the Dec. 7-18 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, attended by delegates from 192 countries and 3,500 journalists. She says she is putting her faith in the alliances that emerge from Klimaforum, where the keynote is scepticism of the current development model.

This huge alternative meeting is being held in a multi-purpose centre in the Danish capital that includes a conference centre and is 15 minutes by train from the Bella Centre, the venue for COP 15.

The Klimaforum programme lists 150 panels and talks, 50 exhibitions and 30 artistic events, including documentaries, theatre and music, which will continue until Dec. 18.

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Cambiar el comercio, claman latinoamericanas

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor


Niñas guatemaltecas. Crédito: Danilo Valladares/IPS

Niñas guatemaltecas. Crédito: Danilo Valladares/IPS

Por Daniela Estrada


COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) “No necesitamos cambiar el clima, necesitamos cambiar el comercio”, dijo la activista brasileña Marta Lago en el Klimaforum, el principal ámbito de la sociedad civil paralelo a la COP-15.

Lago y la guatemalteca Norma Maldonado, ambas de la Red Internacional de Género y Comercio (IGTN, según sus siglas en inglés), cuestionaron los tratados de libre comercio firmados por países de América Latina con Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea, en una charla ofrecida el martes. Continue Reading

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Answers Needed

Posted on 06 December 2009 by editor


Credit: Servaas van den Bosch/IPS

By Diana Cariboni

MONTEVIDEO (IPS/TerraViva) – The sensation that Copenhagen today reflects humanity’s diversity is powerful: more than 15,000 people have flocked to the Danish capital to talk about climate change. In the front line are the ambassadors, politicians, negotiators and technocrats.

Then there are the international bureaucrats, corporate lobbyists, conservationists and nature lovers. Continue Reading

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Missing Gender Dimension

Posted on 04 December 2009 by editor

Sabina Zaccaro interviews IUCN gender advisor Lorena Aguilar Revelo

Lorena Aguilar Revelo. Credit: U.N.

Lorena Aguilar Revelo. Credit: U.N.

ROME  (IPS/TerraViva) Women are known to be innovators when it comes to responding to climate change. The question is how to ensure that the role of women and gender equality are reflected in climate change agreements.

Women in poor countries will be the most affected by climate change effects, according to the 2009 State of the World Population report, released last month by the United Nations Population Fund. This is because women comprise the majority of the world’s farmers, have access to fewer income-earning opportunities, and have limited or no access to technology. Continue Reading

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