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.

(END/2009)

3 Comments For This Post

  1. prof.meyer brownstone Says:

    Bravo to Gender cc with its totally justified position on the impact of climate change and natural didsasters for which special provision and changes must be made. The anaysis of differentialand more serious negative imopact is important but so is the rallying behind a demand for a positive programme which includes both mitigation and adaptation elements. Of course the position of women more generally is related to climate change impact but the gender issue must be pursued in all its crucial elements-such as land rights, inheritance, health measures, male violence. For the moment however the correct emphasis is climate clearly the worst and neglected problem of all humanity. Gains in this area for women will invariably touch on some of the problems mentioned above. Good luck and for a final word-in Canada the issue of climate change and women is the major issue being pursued by Oxfam-Canada and at the international level, Oxfam International

  2. prof.meyer brownstone Says:

    see above comment

  3. prof.meyer brownstone Says:

    Bravo to gender ccwith its totally justified positionon the impact of climate change and natural disasters(many related to climate change for which special provisions and change must be made. The analysis of serioues differential negative impact is importantbut so is rallying behind a positive programme which ioncludes both mitigation and adaptation elements plus a comepsnsatory element. Of course the position of women is more generally related to climate change impact butthe gender issue must be pursued in all its crucial elements-such as land rights, inheritance, health and male violence. Fior the moment however the the emphasis is climate change clearly the worst and most neglected problem of all humanity. Gians in this area for womem explicity will invariably touch on some of the problems mentioned above. Good luck and for a final word-in Canada the issue of climate chnage and women is the major isseu being pursued by Oxfam-Canada and at the international level by Oxfam International


 

 

 

 

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

With the support of

 

 
 

View Posts by Date

July 2014
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

  

 

Arabic