Women’s role in climate issues emphasizedKorea
Korea Herald Korea Herald
An international expert on nature preservation has called for a bigger role for women in discussing climate change, as they are more vulnerable to its impacts.
“Why are women, particularly poor women, disproportionately vulnerable to climate change? It’s because many women live in conditions of social exclusion,” Lorena Aguilar told The Korea Herald as she prepared for the Global Women Capital Forum in Seoul.
Aguilar currently serves as a Global Senior Gender Advisor of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. She has dedicated more than two and half decades of efforts toward sustainable and equitable human development incorporating social and gender issues into the use and conservation of natural resources.
“Climate change will and has been affecting all countries in all parts of the globe,” she said.
“But its impacts will be distributed differently among regions, generations, age classes, income groups, occupations, and genders,” she asserted, and added “especially the poor, the majority of whom are women living in developing countries, will be disproportionately affected.”
According to an analysis of credit schemes in five African countries, women received less than 10 percent of the credit awarded to men. In India, Nepal, and Thailand, fewer than 10 percent of women farmers own land to this, the environmentalist questions “Why should women produce 80 percent of food products from the land and only own 10 percent of the land under their name?” said Aguilar.
Yet, Aguilar said that most of the debate on climate change has to date been “gender blind.” Because climate change affects women and men differently, she said, “gender perspective is essential when discussing climate policy development, decision-making, and strategies for mitigation and adaptation on energy use on deforestation, population, economic growth, science and technology, and policymaking.”
Hence, the exclusion of women from related issues will impede efforts to achieve wider goals like poverty reduction and sustainable development. Gender inequality can worsen the impacts of climate change.
The determined activist said women play an important role in matters on how they will respond to the impacts of climate change. Thus, she claims any climate adaptation strategy should, fundamentally, include actions to build up women’s asset base.
Aguilar further explained the potential environmental risks on women affected by gender inequality.
A 2007 study by the London School of Economics analyzed disaster events in 141 countries and found that gender differences in deaths from natural disasters were directly linked to women’s rights.
“That is, when women’s economic and social rights are not protected, more women than men die from disasters. But in societies where women and men enjoy equal rights, disasters kill the same numbers of women and men,” Aguilar explained.
On that account, IUCN and her colleagues from around the world are promoting international policy action on climate and gender issues, enforcing national and local action on climate and gender, encouraging gender-sensitive financial mechanisms and instruments, and supporting active participation of women’s organizations.
“That is why we are all here together to see some change through our world leaders We want them to understand this and take it into consideration while setting agendas for global meetings,” she said.
At the forum she emphasized “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) members should seek to guarantee the participation of women and gender experts during the preparation of national and international reports and at national and international meetings.”
Climate change cannot be considered an exclusively environmental problem; rather, it needs to be understood within all its development dimensions, said Aguilar.
Aware of these challenges, four of the global development, environmental and women’s institutions; UNDP, IUCN, WEDO and UNEP have formed the Global Gender and Climate Alliance. The main goal of the GGCA is to ensure that climate change policies, decision making, and all initiatives at the global, regional and national levels.
“We cannot afford to make the same mistakes of the past decades. By neglecting the importance of gender we are responsible for the deaths and impoverishment of thousands of people,” she said.
For half a decade she worked on some 30 books on gender and environment, environmental preservation, gender equality, and mostly on human relations with environment. Alongside her publishing, her team has developed methods to realize gender inequality issues in underdeveloped countries, and has been training on the topic “gender equality and women’s roles in climate change” with governments and NGOs across continents.
As a mother of three children and an influential activist, she said “all my traits and energy in working comes from my loving children, and an understanding husband.”
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