The 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP18) is in Full gear in Doha Qatar and while I’m sad that I’m not there to add a gender lens to the discussion I a proud that my fellow Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights youth advocates are present and making their voice heard in particular Atlas Corps Alumni Esther!
For the past couple of year’s young activists from a plethora or non-profits having been lobbying the UN on the issue of climate Change and Women’s health. For many the correlation of both fields seems very distance and unattached however for those of us working to advance women’s rights it’s a clear and overlooked relationship that needs urgent attention.
Last December I had the opportunity to meet with and lobby Christiana Figueres UNFCCC Executive Secretary at COP17 in Durban, South Africa and I most say the experience was an enlightening one but also a life changing one. At COP17 I was shocked to learn of the ill effects of climate change on women living in India, the Philippines, several African countries and many more in South Asia and the Pacific.
The fact that many of the islands in the Caribbean and South Asia experience Hurricanes or Typhoons wasn’t a shocker for me as I knew this, however what really had me was the fact that many of the people who died in these “Asian Hurricanes”- Typhoons were women who were unable to climb trees, ladders or being able to get on the roof of their homes because they were not taught how to climb a tree or climb anything for that matter. The fact that cultural ideologies and laws do not permit many women to engage in these activities resulted in many women being left hopeless in the face of a disaster was the root to the issue.
If that was not enough, during and after these natural disasters women suffer the most as a result of destroyed/damaged public health facilitates, susceptibility to diseases and infections, and of course taking care of their children a role many women are burden to face alone. The Caribbean though more liberal with women’s right (NOT GAY RIGHTS!!! ……SAD) faces similar consequences as a result of the passing of one to at least three Hurricanes per year.
I wrote this hoping that at least one reader will be inspired to join the campaign promoting the inclusion of women SRHR in Climate Change discussions. There are more claims to support this cause:
• Climate Change causes droughts and floods which affects the livelihood of many women living in the global south
• Climate Change affects access to sexual health of many women living in the global south such as landslides, demolition of roads and buildings and damage of resources
• Green House Gases emitted by major corporations and can and does have negative physical impacts on kids and women especially pregnant women living close by these plants/factories.
• Rising sea levels will see the complete wipeout of small countries such as Maldives, islands in the Bahamas among many Pacific and Caribbean islands.
• Legal migration from these countries as a result of rising sea levels are hard to acquire and many women face trafficking among other human rights violations.