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ARROW and Partners Statement for COP23: Accelerate Climate Action – Making the Paris Agreement Work for Women!

November 12, 2017 shutterstock_567344992 (1)

ARROW, Huvadhoo Aid (Maldives), PATH Foundation (Philippines), Penita Initiative (Malaysia), University of Health Sciences (Lao PDR), Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (Nepal), and Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan (Indonesia) have released a statement during COP23, calling for the prioritisation of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in countries’ climate change strategies and budgets. Read the full statement below, or read the PDF version here

Accelerate Climate Action – Making the Paris Agreement Work for Women!

Statement by the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Huvadhoo Aid (Maldives), PATH Foundation (Philippines), Penita Initiative (Malaysia), University of Health Sciences (Lao PDR), Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (Nepal), and Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan (Indonesia).

The landmark Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016. As of now, 169 of the 197 Parties to the Convention have ratified the Agreement; indicating their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to curb the rising global average temperature to well below 2⁰C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to reduce the average temperature even further to 1.5⁰ above pre-industrial levels.[i]

We applaud the Paris Agreement with its central reference to human rights and the much-needed emphasis on right to health in climate actions. Among other things, the Agreement also acknowledges the “rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations…as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.”[ii]

The Asia-Pacific region is prone to climate extreme events which has become more frequent and intense in recent years.  For instance, the cyclone in Bangladesh and Pakistan, drought in India and Nepal, floods in Sri Lanka, Maldives, and island countries across the Pacific.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected compared to men and boys. ARROW and our partners working on exploring the interlinkages between women’s health, in particular sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Asia,[iii] found that poor and marginalized women are most vulnerable to impacts of climate change. SRHR is often neglected in the context of climate change and humanitarian responses. SRHR is not incorporated into most countries’ National Climate Change Policies and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs)/National Adaptation Programmes of Actions (NAPAs).

Here at COP23, we urge our Asia Pacific Parties to keep people at the centre of their negotiations. In order to build societies resilient to climate change it is crucial to safeguard the health and rights of its people, especially women and girls. There is an urgent need that women’s and girls’ health, especially SRHR is prioritised in countries’ NAPs/NAPAs as well as other climate change policies, strategies, and budget.

Hence, we call the Parties to:

  • Organise and equip women and girls with knowledge, skills and technologies for addressing the impact of climate change on women’s health during disaster and diversifying options for better adaptation to prevent women’s and girls’ morbidity and mortality.
  • Reduce the inequality, including those due to harmful cultural practices, in accessing health care services, including SRHR by women and girls, especially those from remote areas and marginalised populations.
  • Strengthen climate change adaptation and mitigation measures to prepare communities, especially the women, for enhanced and efficient natural resources management, particularly food security, clean water source, and access to health care services, including SRHR. The language and terms on climate change used should be that which are understood by grassroots women.
  • Emphasise women’s health, including SRHR, through rights-based policy framework and support CSOs to create awareness among the community of their rights and hold the government central bodies/provincial/district authorities accountable.
  • Strengthen the sensitisation and implementation of gender-equality principles during climate extreme events among the local and central government agencies, as well as policy-makers. It is hoped that this will increase the accountability of government agencies and policy-makers to promote, develop, and implement gender sensitive strategies, programmes, budgeting, and activities that take into account women’s rights, including their SRHR.
  • All policies, strategies, and plans that focus on issues of climate change and health need to be integrated and coherent with, but not limited to, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These must include responses to safeguard and provide for the women’s and girls’ health, including SRHR, as well as strategies to end child and early/forced marriage and gender-based violence.
  • Funding for future research on the interlinkages of climate change and women’s health, including SRHR, as very little data and information are available in most countries in Asia. Researches should focus on marginalised and vulnerable women populations as well as comprehensive studies on gender-differentiated impacts of climate change (e.g., gender differences in capabilities to cope with climate change adaptation and mitigation), and to provide evidence on climate change and women’s health to policy-makers to incorporate the area into the National Policy on Climate Change/NAP/NAPA.

 

[i] UNFCCC. (2015).Adoption of the Paris Agreement. Conference of the Parties, 21st session, 30 November to 11 December 2015, Paris.

[ii] UNFCCC. (2015). Adoption of the Paris Agreement. Conference of the Parties, 21st session, 30

[iii] For more information on partners’ studies and findings please visit ARROW website:http://arrow.org.my/thematic/climate-change/

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