Since the 1800s human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels coal, oil, and gas. Nowadays, greenhouse gas concentrations are at their highest levels in 2 million years and emissions continue to raise.
Therefore, climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. The consequences of this include, among others, intense droughts, water scarcity, severe fires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms, and declining biodiversity.
As well as the planet and its biodiversity are being affected, as is the population around the world. Its impact varies among regions, generations, age, classes, income groups, and gender. Nevertheless, based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is evident that the most vulnerable and marginalized will also experience the greatest impact.
¿Why women are more vulnerable?
The impact of climate change affect genders differently. Although, in the most affected regions both women and men mostly work in natural resource sectors -such as agriculture-. Women are more vulnerable for various reasons, some of which are:
Firstly, women are the ones who are often responsible for gathering and producing food, collecting water and sourcing fuel for heating and cooking. With climate change, these tasks are becoming more difficult.
Secondly, women face more social, economic, and political barriers that limit their coping capacity. For example, they have less access to resources such as land, credit, agricultural inputs, decision making structures, technology, and training.
Finally, climate change drives conflict across the world; women and girls face increased vulnerabilities to all forms of gender-based violence, including conflict related sexual violence, human trafficking, child marriage, and other forms of violence.
The United Nations statistics of the regarding the correlation of women and poverty show the importance of making vital connections between gender, social equity, and climate change “seventy per cent of the 1.3 billion people living in conditions of poverty are women. In urban areas, 40 per cent of the poorest households are headed by women. Women predominate in the world’s food production (50-80 per cent), but they own less than 10 per cent of the land.”.
Women as agents of adaptation of climate change
Despite women being more directly affected by climate change, they play a crucial role in adaptation and mitigation due to their local knowledge and leadership. This knowledge and experience that has passed from one generation to another will be able to contribute effectively to enhance local adaptive capacity and sustain a community’s livelihood. As a result, it can lead to climate change mitigation, disaster reduction and adaptation strategies.
According to the United Nations to enhance the adaptive capacity of women in regions with the highest risk, the fallowing recommendations need to be considered:
- Adaptation initiatives should identify and address gender-specific impact of climate change.
- Women’s priorities and needs must be reflected in the development planning and funding. Women should be part of the decision at national and local levels regarding allocation of resources for climate change initiatives.
- Funding organizations and donors should also consider women-specific circumstances when developing and introducing technologies related to climate change adaptation, and try their best to remove the economic, social, and cultural barriers that could constrain women from benefiting and making use of them.
It is necessary to highlight the importance of investing in participatory, multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral Climate Change Gender Action Plans that can help countries to develop comprehensive action that integrates gender concerns and mitigate the impact of one of the greatest challenges of our time.