In rural Sri Lanka women are tasked with fetching and carrying
water for the entire household, sometimes walking miles with pots
and bottles balanced on their heads. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS
By Jemimah Njuki
NAIROBI, Oct 17 2019 (IPS)
Climate change has a disproportionate impact on women and girls.
This is clear when it comes to water, for instance. The
Global Commission on Adaptation Report launched at the United
Nations General Assembly last week states that the number of people
who may lack sufficient water, at least one month per year, will
soar from 3.6 billion today to more than 5 billion by 2050.
In many developing countries, gender roles and expectations have
made women and girls bear the brunt of looking for water.
Currently, women in sub-Saharan Africa
spend an average of about 200 million hours per day
collecting water, and a whopping 40
billion hours per year. As the impacts of
climate change worsen, the burden on women and girls who are still
responsible for over
70% of the burden of collecting water in Africa.
Currently, women in sub-Saharan Africa spend an average of about
200 million hours per day collecting water, and a whopping 40
billion hours per year. As the impacts of climate change worsen,
the burden on women and girls who are still responsible for over
70% of the burden of collecting water in Africa
While most analysis of climate change recognise the impact on and
role of women, many reports and programs fail to recommend
practical ways to support women and to address the gender barriers
that they face in responding to climate change.
And even more fail to put real resources to address gender
inequalities. Now, the implementation of this new Global Commission
on Adaptation report is a huge opportunity for improvement and
ensuring that gender equality is at the centre of all future
climate adaptation investments.
There are three ways in which this report can put women, and
gender equality at the core of the three revolutions that the
report proposes: revolution in financing, revolution in planning
and revolution in knowledge.
First, for the revolution in financing, the
Global Commission on Adaptation report recommends a 1.8 trillion
USD fund needed to help the world adapt but none of this is
directed to specific women lead initiations. That should be
rectified. Governments and donors should make specific investments
to women led, and women inclusive funds to enable women adapt to
Women are already making efforts to pool their own funds
together to support each other. For example, in Uganda, the
Women’s Empowerment for Resilience and Adaptation Against Climate
Change, a community of 1,642 women-led associations,
representing more than 250,000 women, have pooled together their
individual savings to generate a fund of close to USD 3
Women involved in this initiative borrow from this pool of
savings to invest in innovative, scalable and replicable activities
that catalyze action towards a low-carbon and highly resilient
Over 200,000 women have access to clean water, 250,000 earn
income from income generating activities including bee keeping,
over 1800 use solar energy while 34,000 energy-saving stoves have
been constructed in thousands of households, reducing deforestation
by 8%. Investments that help replicate such successes across the
globe will economically empower women while conserving the
environment and reducing the impacts of climate change.
Second, for the revolution in planning,
government and other implementing agencies must make gender
equality central to the planning process for climate change
adaptation across the key systems that are the focus of the report-
food, natural environment, water, infrastructure, cities, and
natural disaster management.
This will require gender analysis for all proposed interventions
in the different sectors, gender budgeting to ensure resources are
allocated to gender responsive and gender specific actions, and
monitoring and evaluation systems that measure impacts of
interventions on different groups and on gender equality.
Studies by Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN
show that a gender analysis of many climate-smart agriculture
practices shows that they require relatively high investments in
time and/or labour (e.g. building stone bunds and terraces) which
can increase women’s labour burden.
A gender analysis can therefore inform the design and
implementation of climate adaptation innovations. On gender
budgeting, studies show that in countries like Nepal and
gender budget statements for climate change have led to more
targeted investments on gender and climate change.
And third, on the knowledge revolution, a
coalition of global organizations working on gender and climate
should develop global guidelines on integrating gender concerns in
climate adaptation and build capacity and accountability mechanisms
to implement and monitor their application across countries by
governments, private sector, global organizations and
community-based organizations working on climate adaptation.
Organizations such as the
World Health Organization, the
International Labour Organization and the
Food and Agriculture Organization have been developing global
guidelines on health, on labour standards and on agriculture. Such
guidelines have been shown to have positive impacts.
evaluation of the FAO
voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of
land, fisheries and forests enacted in 2012 found that five out
of six countries evaluated had included principles of responsible
governance of tenure in policies, laws or activities, as a result
of the guidelines.
It’s time to move beyond the analysis of women’s
vulnerabilities to climate change and their roles in climate
adaptation. Governments and donors must put their money where their
mouths are – real investments on gender equality in the climate
Dr Jemimah Njuki works on issues of gender equality in the rural
economy including on agriculture and climate resilience. She is an
Aspen New Voices Fellow.
Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Governments, Donors and Investors Must Put Their Money Where Their Mouths are on Gender and Climate Change