Women crucial in climate change interventions

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Malawi News Agency, Malawi

BLANTYRE, Malawi - June 16, 2018: Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson says gender equality and empowerment of women as well as democracy and human rights are essential for achieving inter-generational equity on climate change.

Robinson made the observation in Lilongwe recently after moderating Gender Equality and Climate Change session as part of the on-going International Community Based Adaptation (CBA) 12 Conference.

The former Irish President was attending the conference in her capacity as the founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation (MRF), an organization that deals with matters of climate change.

Robinson, therefore, observed that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by climate change, saying women have an important role to play in dealing with the impacts.

“Women have been on the frontlines of climate change adaptation and mitigation. They have been formidable climate change activists working with families, community and economies to fend off the effects of extreme weather events and build resilience,” she said.

But Robinson said because of the ‘unequal participation of women and men in decision making processes’, rights and contributions of women are not adequately considered in disaster preparation and response plans.

She added: “Environmental justice is a human rights issue and minimizing injustice is everyone’s responsibility. The effects of climate change currently being experienced in Malawi and many countries worldwide require drastic action with multi-sectoral approach from the global community.”

 

President Peter Mutharika interacts with the former Irish President Mary Robinson at Kamuzu Palace on Tuesday - Pic by Stanley Makuti

 Robinson said the importance of including grassroots women and indigenous knowledge in the development of the global gender action plans could not be overemphasized, calling on Malawi to create enabling environment for gender-responsive climate change action.

She said the gender dimensions of climate change are still underestimated. “Women are more affected by climate change because of their traditional roles in the community, but they are not victims, they are increasingly agents of change.”

Director of Environmental Affairs, Tawonga Mbale said while existing evidence underscores the vulnerability of women to climate change in Malawi, there is a wealth of evidence which suggests that women play an important role in supporting households and communities to mitigate the effects and adapt to climate change.

“In fact, women have led and continue to lead most innovative responses to environmental challenges all over the world including Malawi but as a country we need to do more.

“Women are not only victims but also powerful agents of change and possess specific knowledge and skills to effectively contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation but they are largely under-represented in decision-making processes at all levels,” Mbale said.

Mbale said Malawi has done enough to uplift the welfare of women by passing different legislations which are key in uplifting the status of girls and women in the country.