There are some strong women here at the United Nations Conference!
“If you undermine poverty, who picks up the pieces? The women, they pick up the pieces.” -
Mary Robinson, CEO of Climate Justice and the First Woman President of Ireland
We have to recognize that climate change is about people and development. At its center, climate change is inherently a peoples issue, specifically a problem that brings to light human rights and gender equality problems.
At the Doha United Nations Climate Change Conference held in 2012 the COP adopted legislation promoting gender balance and improving the participation of women in the UNFCC negotiations.
Since these discussions two years ago, there has been little action. Now at Lima, it is essential that gender equality be specifically written into the text. The negotiators have to agree to protect, respect, and fulfill human rights.
This is what I learned when I attended a talk yesterday during the 3rd annual “Gender Day” hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
During the course of the day there were multiple high-level side events focused on gender equality and the significant role that climate change will play in the lives of millions of women across the globe.
As a woman, I related. As a person, I understood.
Ethically, we must all start to align climate change with climate justice. Women are going to be more heavily impacted by the negative effects of climate change because 70% of the worlds poor are women. This is why women are going to be disproportionally impacted by the droughts, floods, extreme weather events, and food and water security consequences of climate change.
The United Nations Momentum for Change campaign is a lighthouse campaign, shedding light on practical projects occurring across the world that are empowering people, raising standards of living, and providing better livelihoods for thousands of communities.
WOMEN SPUR THE MOMENTUM FOR CHANGE.
Here is an incredible example that connects water and climate change.
Farmers in India are currently experiencing the effects of extreme weather caused by climate change. Most farmers in India are women. The flooding from the Monsoon season and flash floods have been water clogging the soil, while the drought season has been turning the soil into a desert. Agricultural productivity has significantly dropped which as been increasing starvation and poverty among already poor communities.
Bhungaoo is a water management system that provides a technical solution. The excess water that would normally waterlog the crops is collected in an underground reservoir. This water can then be lifted out during the rest of the year to use during the drought season. This simple yet progressive agricultural practice is changing the lives of these women farmers. The massive underground reservoir can hold as much as 40 million liters of water and can supply water for as long as 7 months.
A social enterprise, Naireeta Services, trains women to run and monitor the Bhungroo’s in their communities. Now, over 18,000 farmers (with over 96,000 dependent family members) have achieved better food security while improving their standards of living. The average annual income has increased from 200 to 700 USD.
This program has helped free women from debt, attain land ownership and participate in local governance as a result of their expertise and influence in agriculture and water.
Participation is a form of empowerment.
At the end of the talk, a woman from Uganda stood up and asked if Bhungoo systems could be installed in her community, which is facing similar impacts from climate change. She mentioned the positive impact this technology can have for women in her community.
We need to shed light on these issues because we need to begin sharing solutions. We can improve the livelihoods of poor people across the globe through these innovative projects that IMPROVE communities, SAVE the environment and EMPOWER women.
We can help these women mitigate and adapt to climate change!
Climate change does not impact us equally. This needs to be a part of the discussion.
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Photo used under Creative Commons from Noel Feans