Transformative climate action is urgently needed to reverse historical gender inequalities – Awdhesh

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Gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow requires that the rights, priorities and needs of women and girls are not systematically ignored by climate, environment and disaster risk policies and programmes. Gender-based violence is intensified by climatic and environmental crises and disasters, at home, at work and in public spaces, as revealed by the pandemic.

By Maria Jose Torres

Santiago de Chile.- The pandemic that has been stalking us for two years and the recent war in Ukraine make it clear, once again, that women and girls are more vulnerable in times of crisis. They are the first to lose employment or educational opportunities by taking on more unpaid care work, and by facing exorbitant levels of domestic violence and cyberbullying.

Unfortunately, to the crises already mentioned -and to so many others around the world-, the climatic one is added. Global crisis that is also not gender neutral, as it is women and girls who experience its greatest impacts. 80% of climate refugees are women. Their survival rates are lower in disasters, as is their access to relief and assistance, threatening their livelihoods, well-being and recovery. The rights, priorities and needs of women and girls are systematically ignored by climate, environmental and disaster risk policies and programs. Gender-based violence is intensified by climatic and environmental crises and disasters, at home, at work and in public spaces, as revealed by the pandemic.

The current painful and intense crises and their consequences reiterate the need to act urgently for the future. It is essential to aim for a sustainable and equal recovery, a feminist recovery, at the center of which is the advancement of girls and women around the world. The call that we make with the United Nations System is to face the harsh existing circumstances as an opportunity to rethink, reformulate and reallocate responses and resources, deepening the gender perspective and an effective approach against climate change and the degradation of the planet. Gender inequality added to the climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time and it is time to act in coordination between all levels of society.

Transformative climate action is urgently needed to reverse historical gender inequalities that have left women and girls disproportionately vulnerable. To ensure the success of these actions and their future stability, economies must be green, gender-inclusive and sustainable, based on up-to-date and disaggregated data on how climate change affects women. It is precisely what we are working on as UN Chile together with the Ministry of the Environment and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. With such information, and more women in leadership positions in the public and private world, in charge of developing and applying green and socially progressive policies, we will certainly be more efficient in mitigating and reducing the effects of the climate crisis.

Women and girls are taking climate and environmental action at different levels, but their voice and participation are insufficiently supported, resourced and recognized. Societies where women’s rights movements are active, democracy is stronger. As Secretary-General António Guterres has said, “when the world invests in expanding opportunities for women and girls, all of humanity wins”.

Chile is in the midst of the constitutional process, days away from voting again in plenary session on the proposals of the Environment Commission. Discussion that will be developed based on the recognition of the existence of the climatic and ecological crisis as a consequence of human activity, and the duty of the State to develop actions and adopt measures at all levels for the management of risks, vulnerabilities and effects caused by it. It is to be hoped that the drafting of the future Magna Carta -prepared by a joint body- considers a model of sustainable development with a gender perspective for Chile. In this way, the country will be able to move towards a sustainable and feminist recovery.

María José Torres is Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Chile

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