What does gender equality mean in the sphere of climate change?

What does climate change have to do with gender roles?

Unpredictable and persistent droughts, floods, fires, and other climate change-related impacts result in the displacement of people, resource conflicts, poverty, loss of lives, and livelihoods. Climate change impacts affect everyone.

These impacts are felt more profoundly by those members of the community with the least decision-making power. Women in rural Africa bear the brunt of climate change. Many of them depend on resources that belong to others. They do not own land, livestock, or even the basic tools needed to eke out a living. Most importantly, they lack decision-making power.

Conversations on loss, damage, and compensation exclude these women. Women are missing at the decision-making table when crucial decisions are made.  In pastoral communities, women have no say on crucial issues like the migration of families or family herds.

Pastoralist women are often left behind in destitute homesteads as family herds are moved away in search of pasture. It is a strenuous life for these women who are expected to look after children and old people in lands where desperation abounds and wild animals become an additional threat to the lives of these defenseless women. It is important to focus on gender roles when discussing climate change mitigation, loss damage compensation, and the future of communities.

Let us bring women to the decision-making table because they are impacted, they are affected, and they must have a voice in how communities exist, how they survive, and how climate change mitigation is rolled out in communities. Let us challenge cultures that breed inequality, We must empower women meaningfully so that their voices are heard.

Dr. Winnie Kiiru, Director of CHD Conservation Kenya

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