Climate change without gender equality
WOMEN’S role in the fight against climate change is crucial. There is no climate justice without gender equality, and the world cannot achieve grand plans such as the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and subsequent COP27 outcome.
Post-COVID-19, gender inequalities have deepened, and women and girls are more exposed to climate risks and less empowered to drive solutions due to considerable obstacles in climate adaptation, disproportionate economic repercussions, increased unpaid and domestic work, and heightened risks of violence.
Women across the globe depend more on natural resources, yet they have less access to them.
In rural regions of Pakistan, agriculture is the sole employment sector to secure resources and income.
Women have to bear disproportionate responsibility, especially during drought and erratic rainfall periods, which puts added pressure on girls, who often have to leave school to help their mothers manage the burden.
Due to the recent floods in Pakistan women and girls have become more vulnerable in terms of accessing relief and assistance, information, resources, training and mobility, threatened their livelihoods and created a vicious cycle of gender disparity as they are less likely to survive and more likely to be injured in disasters.
Women’s and girls’ health has also become endangered due to climate change which has increased the risks related to maternal and child health.
In addition, climate changes have spread vector-borne illnesses such as dengue fever and malaria and are causing an increase in the incidence of stillbirth.
As primary caregivers in many families, women observe their responsibilities increase as family members suffer from long-serious and seasonal illnesses and they have less access to medical care.
We must understand that woman’s decision-making processes, leadership roles and participation in climate change action can make climate change adaptation and mitigation possible.
As they are at the forefront of functional approaches to promote sustainable energy transition and agro ecology that protect the local ecosystem.
The government and relevant authorities must implement special measures, such as quotas, to increase women’s meaningful participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making, and addresses inequalities, particularly in poor and excluded communities.
Interventions that create greater awareness and understanding of the complex links between gender equality and the environment can help build the capacity of the poor, mainly poor women, to adapt to the effects of climate change and to take action on it.
Concerned policy and programming considerations should be promoting cleaner-burning fuel for household use, which will be helpful to lower air pollution and harmful emissions.
Include women and men in the decision-making framework on climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes, and support vulnerability-reduction measures to address women’s needs.
Women can and generally do play an integral role in response to climate change due to their local knowledge of and leadership in, e. g. , sustainable resource management and leading sustainable practices at the household and community level.
On the contrary, if policies and projects are put together into practice without their meaningful participation, it can increase existing inequalities and decrease effectiveness.
Hence all commitments to gender equality and climate change must be implemented just as a transition that prioritizes poverty eradication over economic growth.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Karachi.