Part II | Gender Equality and Climate Change

Mitigation and adaptation efforts should systematically and effectively address gender-specific impacts of climate change

Mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and financing are the areas where women can be involved and that are where we left in the last write-up. The first two are linked to manifestations of climate change; and the latter two are linked to the means for achieving development goals.

Mitigation and adaptation efforts should systematically and effectively address gender-specific impacts of climate change in the areas of food security, agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity; water; health; human rights; peace security and will be helpful in a process of curbing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities like fossil fuels and deforestation.

Adaptation involves a range of activities to reduce vulnerability and build resilience in key sectors like water, agriculture and human settlements. Financing mechanisms must be flexible enough to reflect women’s priorities and needs. Gender analysis of all budget lines and financial instruments for climate change is needed to ensure gender-sensitive investments in programmes for adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and capacity building

As Nodal officer, J&K climate change cell, I was able to get one project sanctioned under the national Adaptation Fund on climate Change under the Agriculture Mission for an amount of Rs 22.51 crores but this met the fate of gender bias and lack of institutional mechanism .Technological developments related to climate change should take into account women’s needs and roles, and make full use of their knowledge and expertise, including indigenous knowledge and traditional practices which they have acquired during their long need to have equal access to training, credit and skills-development programmes to ensure their full participation in climate change initiatives in J&K for better understanding for Sustainable Development .

Government of J&K should define a gender Specific Climate Policy to incorporate gender perspectives into our policy planning, action plans and other measures on sustainable development and climate change, through carrying out systematic gender analysis. In J&K women are underrepresented in the decision-making process on environmental governance. They should be equally represented in decision-making structures to allow them to contribute their unique and valuable perspectives and expertise on climate change and other environmental issues confronting this eco sensitive region nestling in the lap of Himalayas..

Women in leadership positions have made a visible difference in management of natural resources, natural disaster responses, both in emergency rescue and evacuation efforts and in post-disaster reconstruction.

Energy Sector, which is a critical area and renewable energy is often cited as a key climate change mitigation technology. The role of women in energy sector needs proper recognition .In rural India and in J&K most energy comes from traditional biomass fuels such as wood, charcoal and agricultural wastes and collecting and managing these fuels is strictly the business of women. Women are responsible for gathering fuel and providing food, even when this involves long hours performing heavy physical labour or travelling longer distances. With severe environmental changes, women are likely to continue spending long hours fetching firewood, drawing water, working the land, and grinding cereal crops. Given these numerous responsibilities and tasks, women need to be actively engaged in energy decision-making. Women should be given greater involvement so that energy supplies can be managed more effectively and productively in the face of climate change threat looming large on us.

The use of technology now includes knowledge, processes, activities, and socio-cultural context and hence touches most of the life aspects. Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) positioned clean technologies at the centre of global responses to climate change and technology has become increasingly relevant in adapting and mitigating climate change. Furthermore, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which emerged from the Kyoto Protocol enables industrialised countries to invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries. It is important to point out that equal inclusion of women and men in all aspects of climate change projects, including technology, pays off; this is especially true in the case of technologies aimed at tasks most frequently performed by women. In order to be effective, adaptation and mitigation technologies need to reach to the poor and vulnerable. This means that targeted efforts must ensure firstly that it is understood that the situation of women may differ from that of men, secondly that technologies are designed in such a way as to be relevant to their circumstances and thirdly to ensure that they are given full access to knowledge, information and technologies related to adaptation.

Climate Change financing instruments are supposed to be custom-built to suit the different levels of economic development. However, factors such as gender inequality in access to social and physical goods; gender gaps in education, income, time use and leisure; and gender-differentiated roles and responsibilities in the household, community and labour markets affect the effective channelling of financing to women.

Dealing successfully with the challenge of risk management, disaster preparedness and climate change-induced-weather challenges require resources on day to day basis and empowering and investing in women are key to combating the effects of desertification and paving the way for poverty alleviation. However, under the current climate change finance regime, women do not have sufficient access to funds aimed at covering weather-related losses, nor do they have funds to service adaptation and mitigation technologies. This gender discrepancy has come to light at the time some disasters, including the Tsunami; Katrina etc. The vulnerability of women to disasters is increased for a number of reasons. Post-disaster, women are usually at higher risk of being placed in unsafe, overcrowded shelters, due to lack of assets, such as savings, property or land. Exacerbating this effect, women often avoid using shelters out of fear of domestic and sexual violence, and become even less mobile as primary family care-givers. Poor women and those in countries of higher gender inequality appear to be at the highest risk: a direct correlation has been observed between women’s status in society and their likelihood of receiving adequate health care in times of disaster and environmental stress. The UN has identified environmental degradation as a key threat to human security. All post-conflict countries face serious environmental issues that could undermine the peace building processes, if left unaddressed, and specifically affect women who are faced by a combination of hardships.

It is thus important to identify gender-sensitive strategies for responding to human security needs and environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change. These efforts should focus on: reducing women’s vulnerability, in tandem with men’s susceptibilities; promoting gender sensitive emergency responses; and enlisting women as key environmental actors in natural disaster management decision-making processes, alongside men, tapping on women’s skills, resourcefulness and leadership in mitigation and adaptation efforts.

(To be continued)

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