Written by Stephanie Safari
“If you are invisible in everyday life, your needs will not be thought of, let alone addressed, in a crisis situation.” Matcha Phorn-in
We’re facing a triple planetary disaster. Climate change, pollution and waste, and loss of nature and biodiversity are threatening the livelihoods and lives of billions of people. Stockholm+50 is set against the backdrop of these rising alarms.
Recognising the role of gender in the issue of climate change is a key step in understanding the risks and developing sustainable solutions. Across the world, women are faced with the impacts of climate change ranging from food security to all forms of gender-based violence. Gender inequalities in decision-making, and access to resources are also amplified by climate change.
In Kenya, particularly the coastal region, the impact of climate change especially affects the
vulnerable communities, women more severely than men. Women and girls depend more on natural resources. Their caregiving responsibilities are highly dependent on these resources, which puts an added pressure on them, often resulting in young girls who have to leave school to help their mothers manage the home. In areas like Kilifi county, rain can no longer be predicted and this has affected livestock and food crop quality. Because women are a key resource in the agricultural sector, they must come up with solutions in order to “fulfill” their roles as food providers. They now grow mainly drought resistant plants like maize and cassava which has rooted the agribusiness too.
This is just one instance that shows that women have the knowledge of what is needed to adapt to changing environmental conditions as well as the ability to come up with practical solutions. But they are still a largely untapped resource. Women have long been prevented from playing a full role in tackling environmental challenges. They contribute 76 percent of unpaid work time. This along with restricted land rights, lack of access to financial resources, training and technology, and limited access to political decision-making spheres often means that their voices go unheard.
Stockholm+50 featured four plenary sessions in which leaders made calls for bold environmental action to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Three leadership dialogues, hundreds of side events – including several youth-led sessions – and webinars, as well as series of regional multi-stakeholder consultations in the run-up to the meeting enabled thousands of people around the world to engage in discussions and put forward their views. Stockholm+50 was designed to be a jumping-off point for accelerating groundbreaking international agreements and reinventing how we can accomplish the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Paris Agreement, and Global Biodiversity Framework. Women need to be included in all calls to action in order to see a real and long lasting change.
It is important to ensure equal space and resources for women and men to participate in climate change decision making. Investing in girls and women can create so many benefits not just for them, but on a global scale too. Building resilience through empowerment and inclusion at every step allows them to develop their voice. It is important that we continue recognising the important contributions of women at all levels, in all sectors.