n the wake of the recent floods, women have become more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change than men. More than 33 million people have been affected by the floods. They include 1.6 million women of childbearing age. Nearly 650,000 are pregnant and need urgent health services.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently published a report, Climate Change Action Plan for Gender Equality (ccGAP), aimed at building the capacity of the Ministry of Climate Change and mainstreaming gender into projects funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The report addresses gaps and identifies new ways to address women’s vulnerability in disasters. Furthermore, it creatively interprets existing approaches towards the inclusion of women in decision-making processes during calamities.
The ccGAP advocates for a greater role for women in the development of climate solutions. It is an attempt to correct the gender imbalance. The report makes a series of recommendations to strengthen inclusiveness at all levels of planning and action for climate change adaptation in Pakistan.
Federal Minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, said on the occasion: “With the launch of ccGAP, a great step has been taken in integrating gender considerations into climate change policies and implementation frameworks. “. She said she was keen to take the actions proposed by ccGAP to mitigate the impacts of climate change on women and other vulnerable groups in society.
Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, the representative of IUCN-Pakistan, said that ccGAP, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) and IUCN, marked a new phase in the work of MOCC to ensure the gender inclusion and responsiveness in the fight against climate change. crisis.
The first half of the report talks about Pakistan’s commitment to a gender-neutral response to climate change. Pakistan’s climate response is now guided by the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) 2021. The policy has 14 goals aimed at building the adaptive capacity of vulnerable populations, including women. The ccGAP report is a key step towards realizing the main objectives of the NCCP by focusing on pro-poor and gender-responsive adaptations.
In the second half, the ccGAP provides a framework for integrated gender responsive climate action in Pakistan. The ccGAP identifies six priority areas that are particularly important for building resilience where women are likely to be hardest hit. These include disaster risk reduction; agriculture and food security; forests and biodiversity; integrated coastal management; water supply and sanitation; and energy and transport.
The report mentions Pakistan as one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. Changing weather patterns will significantly affect the spatial and temporal distribution and availability of water over the coming decades.
The report notes that according to German Watch, Pakistan is among the 15 countries most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. May’s extreme heat wave and extreme flooding are two systemic and interrelated extreme events. Each extreme weather event is the result of a previous event.
Climate-related disasters also have a strong impact on the country’s economy. The report argues that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank (WB) claim that, by some estimates, Pakistan faces an annual economic loss of up to $3.8 billion due to climate change. Pakistan also fell seven places in the Human Development Index (HDI), ranking 161st out of 192 countries during the period 2021-2022, according to a UNDP report.
Women in developing countries like Pakistan are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climatic disasters due to deep-rooted gender discrimination. According to the World Economic Forum 2022 Global Gender Gap Index report, Pakistan is ranked as the second worst country in the world in terms of gender parity. The impact of natural disasters is 14 times greater on women and children than on men. Women and girls face additional challenges, including difficulty accessing health care and relief supplies, vulnerability to various fears in relief camps, and threats to personal safety. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), women and girls are more likely to suffer from waterborne diseases. In addition, recovery from infection and disease is difficult for women with limited mobility and livelihoods.
The 2010 floods displaced nearly 1.5 million people in Sindh, 49% of whom were women. The agricultural sector is the most vulnerable to climate change and is central to the livelihoods of Pakistani women, especially in rural areas. Women are involved in agriculture, animal husbandry, harvesting crops and collecting firewood. When destructive weather events occur, women’s employment and incomes are greatly affected as they do not receive enough support to find alternative livelihoods.
The report mentions Pakistan as one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. Changing weather patterns will significantly affect the spatial and temporal distribution and availability of water over the coming decades. The report refers to WaterAid 2022, which indicates that Pakistan is among the ten countries in the world with the highest number of people without access to drinking water. Water scarcity forces women and girls to walk long distances to fetch water, putting their personal safety at risk, the report observes. Lack of access to water and toilets and problems with menstrual hygiene management create shame and anxiety among women and girls. It also exacerbates gender inequalities.
Additionally, the report provides gender-transformative climate responses, indicators of success, programs and initiatives to engage women in important decision-making conversations.
The writer is a freelance contributor based at AJ&K. She tweets @hunain_mahmood and can be reached at [email protected]