A few years ago, Beatrice Anywar, the current Minister of State for Environment, led a successful protest against trading Mabira forest for sugarcane growing.
That action in itself certainly contributed to the decision of the forest staying intact.
Time and again, women have exhibited tremendous effort in preserving and protecting resources in their communities.
Among some notable examples are; the Chipko grass roots women movement of India in the 1970s where activists stopped the felling of trees by physically surrounding them.
Most recently, is the involvement of young women like Greta Thunberg, Isra Hirsi and our own Vanessa Nakate who are making international headlines for leading global protests against climate change.
These aforementioned instances remind us that women have always been and are at the forefront of climate justice. This is majorly because they are disproportionately affected by environmental issues.
Nonetheless, for the climate change crisis to be properly addressed, it’s important that women are acknowledged and recognised as equal participants in all decisions related to their environment. Below are some reasons why women are paramount to the climate change action.
Climate change has a direct impact on women because in their productive and reproductive roles, they have close links with the environment.
Consequently, women’s position in society and their proximate relationship with the environment means that they can be critical agents of environmental conservation and adaptation to climate change.
Women are also a more appropriate group to target for cultural and social changes. Their activities in development and family care put them in the central position regarding impacts to land and other natural resources(Joekes,1987).
Experience shows that women are central to improving the lives of their families and communities. Women hence, are capable of playing a pivotal role in adaptation initiatives through community awareness of sustainable practices that are kinder to the environment.
Women are a great and competent force that needs be involved. 51 per cent of humanity is comprised of women and girls. To meet the most ambitious 1.5C target of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and to limit warming to well 2C, it is important that perspectives and ideas of women are included in climate action so as to create just, effective and sustainable solutions.
Further more, women’s knowledge and expertise contributes to building climate change resilience and to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Empowering women means more effective and balanced climate solutions.
This can positively impact climate adaptation in two ways; Exposing women to appropriate technology and resources contributes to more sustainable farming and conservation.
On the other hand, a reduction in poverty is achieved enabling individuals to better adapt to climate change. Therefore, investing in women and girls creates ripple effects throughout entire communities and countries.
Women are vital to building climate resilience in communities. Communities do better in resilience and capacity building strategies when women are also involved in planning.
Climate change impacts everyone but not equally. It’s well established that climate change has a greater impact on those sections of the population that are most vulnerable, whether in developed or developing countries exacerbating existing inequalities.
Women commonly face higher risks and heavier burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty and due to existing roles, responsibilities and cultural norms.
Targeted investments in gender equality and women’s empowerment yield returns in environmental conservation, poverty alleviation, social policy and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By fighting climate change with a gender lens, women’s rights are also addressed, tackling rather than aggravating existing gender inequalities.
It’s been internationally agreed that women’s involvement in the climate change crisis matters. Countries have recognized the importance of involving women and men equally in processes, development as well as implementation of national climate policies that are gender responsive.
This is evidenced in the first ever UNFCCC Gender Action Plan established under the Lima Work Programme on gender (LWPG)
Conclusively, women’s voices must be comprehensively integrated into policy and implementation efforts at every stage of the climate change fight for the well-being of future generations.
Ms Katherine Nabuzale is a researcher and a social analyst. Mr Charles Bichachi will be back next week.