By Lauren Nutter
(for Geena Berry and the rest of the awesome folks fighting for gender equity)
I’ve been a supporter of stakeholder participation for a long time now, and I am realizing, now more than ever, the value of incorporating more than just sovereign states into global solutions. Simply, we can better combat climate change if we are involving actors on all levels and recognize the potential of those most impacted. For example, women are some of the most strongly affected by climate change, yet their special knowledge to deal with the impacts is rarely considered.
Yesterday at the climate talks in Bangkok, more than 100 women from Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other Asian countries, rallied in the streets to demand gender equity be included in the context of a just climate deal for Copenhagen.
The ECO daily newsletter here in Bangkok included a few highlights of why gender equity is important in the context of climate change:
o Women are the key providers of food, water, and fuel in their communities. They provide up to 90% of food crops for the rural poor. They care for children, the sick, and elderly, and oversee the family’s assets. As a result, women have direct knowledge about effective and innovative solutions. They know how to address resources constraints and respond to erratic environmental changes.
o Women’s empowerment is crucial to sustainable development. Women lead some of the most progressive efforts in response to environmental degradation and climate change impacts, even as their voices are often marginalized. Wangari Maathai started the global Green Belt movement to plant trees in Kenya, and entered into an agreement with the World Bank to reforest regions of Kenya and secure significant emissions reductions—and that success is only one of many
o Women are disproportionally affected by climate change. Women make up an estimated 70% of those living below the poverty line; they have less access to resources, and they are more likely to die than men during natural disasters.
o Of all the legally binding agreements that resulted from the 1992 Earth Summit, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is the only one not to incorporate gender issues. In contrast, the Convention on Biological Diversity has incorporated a gender plan of action that recognizes women’s traditional knowledge and access to land assets.