2016 gender, climate change impacts
Published On January 23, 2016 » 606 Views» By Bennet Simbeye » Features
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Environmental notes logoWarthog took time to be a part of the training and workshop that was conducted last week from Monday the 18th to Friday 22nd January 2016 by Ministry of Gender and Child Development with the assistance from IUCN and USAID.
In attendance were different stakeholders and experts from all the ten provinces of Zambia to formulate the gender and climate change action plan and also share their experience on climate change in Zambia.
Gender is the collective social differences between males and females, as determined by culture. Gender is one of many components of vulnerability to climatic change. Did you know? Changes in the climate affect genders differently, magnifying existing gender inequality.
Both women and men are affected by and vulnerable to climate change and global warming, but women often bear more of the burden. This higher vulnerability is mostly not due to biological or physical differences, but is formed by the prevailing social, institutional and legal context.
Subsequently, Vulnerability is less an intrinsic feature of women and girls but rather a product of their marginalisation.
The poor and impoverished are dependent on the environment and its natural resources for subsistence and income; poverty research reveals that many of the poor are women because, as a group, they have less social power.
Many women in developing countries are farmers, but women as a group have trouble obtaining education, income, land, livestock, and technology, meaning climate change may negatively impact female farmers more than male farmers by further limiting their resources.
In 2009, women produced between 60 and 80 percent of all food in the developing world, as the planet warms and access to water changes, the crop yields tend to decrease.
Climatic changes affect weather patterns, increasing the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts, and extreme weather events.
These types of conditions also result in natural disasters. While climate change is not solely destructive, the negative impacts of global warming on health and agriculture are greater than the benefits for the majority of the world and increase as global temperatures rise.
A two-degree rise in temperature threatens 25 percent of all plant and animal species on the planet with extinction. These climatic changes cause the most harm for the most vulnerable populations or those who lack the ability to cope with and adapt to climate change because of a lack of access to essential resources.
Marginalised groups like women, children, the elderly, and the impoverished have less access to and control over resources and therefore are more negatively impacted by climate change.
These effects are not uniform, and they have the largest impact on areas of the world where the economy depends on agriculture and the climate is sensitive to change. In developing countries like Zambia, women are often in charge of obtaining water, firewood, and other resources for their families, but these resources are directly impacted by climate change. They must travel further and work longer to access resources during crisis.
Climate change increases burdens placed on women by society and further limits their access to education and employment. The increase of inequalities due to climate change can have several reasons. For example, girls often face more serious risks than boys due to unequal distribution of scarce resources within the household.
This effect is amplified by climate change induced resource scarcity. Furthermore, Climate change often results in an increase of out-migration of men.
This leaves women with an increased work-load at home, resulting in a feminisation of responsibilities. Climate change is predicted to increase frequency and magnitude of natural hazards such as extreme heat.
During and after these hazards especially women are burdened with increased care work for children, the sick and old, adding furthermore to already significant amount of household duties.
Some scholars believe that climate change policy that does not address gender is not effective. Much of the climate change policy created before the 21st century focused on economic rather than social effects of climatic change and global warming.
Climate change research and policy began to look at gender in the 21st century. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Millennium Development Goals, and the Beijing Platform for Action are all gender-aware initiatives that may affect climate change policy.
While women in rural areas depend on the environment heavily, they are not usually represented in climate change decision-making processes, whether those processes are adaptive or mitigative.
Some of the international responses to climate change that do not address gender or employ gender-sensitive approaches include Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
As of 2009, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the only international climate change response to have incorporated gender dimensions.
Mitigative policy attempts to moderate the intensity of global warming’s effects through measures like reducing greenhouse gases and enhancing sinks.
According to research, men and women use their knowledge of their environments to mitigate disasters, transferring this knowledge through informal education.
Some of this knowledge includes food preservation processes, methods of construction, and understanding of natural resources in the area.
Adaptive policy involves spontaneous or planned efforts to tolerate the negative effects of climate change and take advantage of the beneficial effects.
Men and women respond differently to climate change and subsequently also to adaptation measures, which can affect men and women unequally, when the gender perspective is ignored in the policy.
Women can be important players in climate change policy because they have gendered knowledge about things like managing water resources.
Some scholars recommend incorporating gender dimensions into research and using human-rights approaches like the Millennium Development Goals and CEDAW as frameworks for climate change responses. Several organisations believe that linking mitigation and adaptation approaches, equally funding both types of efforts, and integrating gender into mitigative and adaptive policies will better address the consequences of climate change.
The UNDP mandates gender mainstreaming in all adaptation measures, meaning adaptive responses to climate change must consider gender and gender equality from their inception and cannot incorporate a gender component late in their development or only in certain areas. Others believe that imposing mainstreaming agendas on communities can make gender-sensitive policy less effective and may even be counter-productive, emphasizing gender differences and isolating gender issues from other areas affected by climate change.
Most scholars and organizations working to address climate change agree that policy-makers must work with both women and men and take them into consideration at all levels.
Gender inequalities do not only emerge in context of climate change as a physical reality, but also within discourses of and negotiations over climate change. This is reflected in the fact that men are dominant in all levels of climate change debate from the science to policy, from the local to the global level.
This has an effect on climate change policies. In practice gender equality is not reached in the context of climate change. Little data and research results in insufficient gender awareness in enacted gender policies.
Wildlife & Environmental Conservation Society of Zambia. P.O. Box 30255, Lusaka, Zambia. Telefax: 260-211-251630, Cell: 0977-780770 E-mail: wecsz@coppernet.zm

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