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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Women worst-hit by impact of climate change – Experts

Experts have called for concerted efforts from the international communities, regional bodies and other stakeholders to manage risks of climate change on women.

Women farmers
Climate change impacts on smallholder and subsistence women farmers

They made the call at a session on “Addressing the Gender Dimensions of Climate Change and Security’’ at the Planetary Security Conference at the Hague.

The experts insisted that the impact of climate change to water, peace and security on women was evident in the loss of livelihoods and dignity.

According to them, climate change has been recognised as a defining threat to peace in the 21st Century, as increasingly demonstrated by ground level realities.

Ms Amanda Kron, Project Coordinator for Climate Change and Security, UN Environment Programme, said that climate change impacts on smallholder and subsistence women farmers, compounded by environmental and physical processes affecting production at all levels.

Kron said that through rising temperature and changes in rainfall patterns, men now migrate in search of pastures for their cattles, making women to take the lead in the homes.

She added that there was the need for gender-specific interventions when it comes to mitigating impact of climate change, saying that women and men react differently to water scarcity and its uses.

“These impacts are expected to disproportionately affect the welfare of the poor in rural areas, such as female-headed households and with limited access to land and modern agricultural inputs rises conflict.’’

Kron called for continuous research, advocacy and data availability to manage challenges that women faced toward understanding areas of intervention.

Also, Ms Shaza Suleiman, Programme Specialist, Peace and Security, UN Women, said rural areas still account for almost half of the world’s population and about 70 per cent of the developing world’s poor people.

Suleiman noted that major impacts of climate change in rural areas were being felt through impacts on water supply, food security and agricultural incomes.

She said that less than 20 per cent of landholders were women, making them to play a disproportionate role in agriculture.

According to her, on an average, women make up around 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries but have not been duly recognised for the work they have done.

Suleiman added that protecting women’s right to land and cash crops was key to promoting their economic empowerment, saying this could be achieved through statutory and customary laws.

“Legal protection of women’s rights can help to transform natural resources to economic opportunities, a lack of rights to land is a major significant barrier to resilience in times of climate change conflicts.’’ he said.

Also, Mr Thomas Ritzer, UN Department of Political Affairs, said that women played a major role in key production, while about 80 per cent of food produced in developing countries were by women.

According to Ritzer, such efforts is compounded during and after conflict, saying reduced access to land affects livelihoods and empowerment opportunities.

“As a result of the impact of conflict, there is reduced access to land due to insecurity or damages to local resources, destruction or looting of agricultural infrastructure, lack of availability of agricultural extension inputs.

“In female-headed households with multiple children, the loss of economic power and livestock due to conflict can have a direct impact on malnutrition and overall wellbeing,’’ he said.

Ritzer stressed that data availability would help in knowing what specific areas of intervention would be addressed.

The high-level conference was organised by the Planetary Security Initiative, supported by the Free Press Unlimited and the Clingendael Institute.

The conference’s thematic focus includes contribution of land and climate policies to peace, urban risks and instability, Geopolitics of energy transition.

Iraq, Lake Chad, Mali and the Caribbean Small Island Developing States are spotlight regions to illustrate possible ways forward in addressing these themes.

By Tosin Kolade

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