Recognise the Rights and Roles of Rural and Indigenous Women in Tackling Climate Change
For immediate release: 6 December 2011
Chiang Mai, Thailand– Women and men, due to their gender roles and existing unequal power relations between them, have different vulnerabilities and responses to the impact of critical and harmful conditions resulting from global climate change. They have differentiated capabilities and preferences regarding policies and measures to tackle the problems. The existing policy framework to tackle climate change, however, is ignorant of unequal power relations between men and women.
APWLD stipulates full integration of the gender dimension into addressing climate change in accordance with international human rights, including women’s human rights. APWLD supports the most marginalised women in Asia Pacific who are among the most vulnerable to the negative impact of climate change- yet who have least contributed to the causes.
Research was conducted among rural, indigenous and Dalit women in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines who engage in small-scale farming, fishery and other subsistence activities. Although the political, social and economic context of each country in the region differs, the research revealed that the impact of climate change has aggravated gender inequities and worsened the situation for women. Already saddled with unjust and discriminatory policies and existing gender norms, women face great difficulty coping with the effect of climate change.
The lack of a clear land tenure system, of adequate social services for education, health and water, of decent jobs and of support for small scale agriculture, fishery and forestry, have only been worsened with the advent of climate change. The research results also demonstrated that rural, indigenous and Dalit women in those countries
are gatekeepers of their ecosystems and communities, struggling to conserve diminishing resources for survival and adaptation. The strategies they have undertaken are family or community-based, low-carbon and more in harmony with natural ecological systems. Women are ready to take on leadership towards more resilient community-building using their knowledge and skills.
APWLD therefore calls for climate change policies at global and national levels that will:
- Integrate gender perspective and ensure non-discrimination against and support for the most marginalized populations, rural, indigenous and Dalit women;
- Recognise the role of rural, indigenous and Dalit women in small scale farming, fisheries, hunting and other activities;
- Provide for women’s access to and control of land, water and other natural resources, as well as access to adequate social services and technology meaningful to strengthening their resilience;
- Ensure women and their organisations and communities have direct access to funds catering to their adaptive needs in every sector with adequate resources;
- Ensure and promote meaningful participation, representation and leadership of women in decision making at all levels;
- Provide consistent and timely information in relation to climate change science and policy,including early warnings of extreme weather events and possible effects, using communication methods appropriate for rural, indigenous and Dalit women, and in their own languages.