Women need land and resource rights to implement progressive forestry
or agricultural practices.
A year after much-touted climate change summit in Copenhagen, country
negotiators from around the world are together again to work out an
international response to climate change. While many believe we should
lower our expectations for this year’s climate change summit underway
in Cancun, this would be a mistake. As global temperatures rise, so do
the challenge’s for the world’s poorest citizens — women, especially
those living in developing countries.
Women are living on the frontlines of climate change, and are ready to
be active partners in dealing with climate change. The negotiations in
Cancun should be an opportunity to empower women and make concrete
commitments that will turn some promises of earlier negotiations into
a fair, binding, and legal document.
From food shortages to forest degradation and new and more complex
health risks, as well as an increased likelihood of conflict over
resources, the impacts of climate change threaten to further
jeopardise the lives of women and girls. But just as many women are
bearing the greatest burden of climate change because of their role as
providers for their families, it is women who are developing the
solutions that will save our world from the impacts of global warming.
Re-using solid waste
Through its green technology initiative in India, the Self-Employed
Women’s Association has helped provide over 1,50,000 women with
microcredit and training required to take advantage of new green
technology. While the developed world talks about action, women from
the poorest sectors of India’s economy are cutting carbon emissions by
ending their reliance on coal, re-using forms of solid waste and
promoting the merits of alternative energy.
Similarly, in regions where women are able to be decision-makers over
land use and resources, they are proving to be a positive force for
sustainable change. But it is not just women in the developing world
who are taking on the challenge of climate change. As the research
from North America, Europe, and India demonstrates, women around the
world demonstrate greater scientific knowledge of climate change, show
more concern, and are more willing to adopt policies that are designed
to address global warming. Internationally, women leaders are at the
forefront of a global civil society network working to hold
government, international institutions, and the private sector to
account for their promises on climate action.
Yet despite their willingness to take political and individual action,
entrenched inequality between men and women continues to pose a
critical obstacle to global efforts to address climate change.
The most fuel-efficient stove ever produced will do little to bring an
end to deforestation or reduce carbon emissions if women do not have
access to the training required to use it, the micro-credit needed to
buy it, or the financial freedom to control household expenditure.
In many parts of the world women do not own collective or individual
title to the land from which they live. This lack of control means
they are less able to implement sustainable agriculture or adapt
forest management strategies that contribute to climate change
mitigation as their voices are not heard when decisions are made. It
also impedes their ability to participate effectively in programmes
such as REDD+, which offers financial incentives for reducing
emissions from deforestation.
REDD+ will only work if policy makers are willing to learn from
grassroots level women. One of the key lessons is that focusing on
carbon as the sole measure of the success of a climate change project
has the potential to derail international efforts to combat climate
change. Moving forward, we need to also take into consideration
community rights to land and carbon, the livelihoods of people in
communities, and issues related to governance.
In March this year, when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced a
climate finance panel expected to mobilise $100 billion a year to help
those most affected by climate change, the 19-person panel did not
include a single woman.
Not only should women be represented on a climate change finance
panel. Every effort possible must also be made to ensure that women
have access to the education, training, and finances needed to adopt
sustainable technologies and participate in the green economy. Women
and girls also need the land and resource rights to implement
progressive forestry or agricultural practices. Last and certainly not
least, women need the basic democratic rights that will enable them to
vote for and promote green policies at the local, national, and
If the international community is serious about addressing climate
change, it must recognise women as a fundamental part of the climate
(The writer is a winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 2004)
REDD+ : Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
Source : Deccan Herald
Article URL : http://www.deccanherald.com/content/118900/involve-women-climate-change.html
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