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Women Most at Risk from Climate Change Disasters, Says UN Report

A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says investment in new technologies can improve women’s climate adaptation capacity and livelihood opportunities.
Women in developing countries are facing high risks to their livelihoods and health from climate change, as well as associated risks such as human trafficking.

A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says investment in new technologies can improve women’s climate adaptation capacity and livelihood opportunities. 

The report, Women at the Frontline of Climate Change: Gender Risks and Hopes, released at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa says impacts of climate change, such as droughts, floods and mud slides are affecting a growing number of people worldwide.

It says in parts of Asia and Africa, where the majority of the agricultural workforce is female, such disasters have a major impact on women’s income, food security and health.

Launching the report, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner said women often play a stronger role than men in the management of ecosystem services and food security and should be equipped with technology to adapt to climate change.

Winnie Matsiko, the former Rukungiri woman Member of Parliament in an interview after the launch of the report said women in Uganda have been victims of disasters since 2007 but responses from disaster ministry sometimes don’t consider their vulnerability.

Matsiko says women in communities are vulnerable to climate change and are often more likely than men to lose their lives during natural disasters due to poor access to coping strategies such as basic lifesaving skills or cultural factors that restrict their mobility.

She says the UN system should come up with more proactive measues in responding to women’s concerns during the disasters like the floods being experienced in parts Uganda.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics show that providing women, who make up around 40 to 50 per cent of the work force in agriculture, with the same access as men could improve agricultural production by 4 percent.

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