The following are oral statements delivered by ARROW at the Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on the Sixty- Sixth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 66).
‘Understanding the gendered impacts of climate change, environment degradation and disaster risk reduction’ session on February 9th 2022
Asia and the Pacific region is at the forefront of experiencing the impact of climate change and its related disasters. Studies by ARROW and partners in the region revealed that the impacts of climate change are not gender-neutral and the harsh inequalities faced by women and girls in all their diversities are further amplified during climate disasters. In addition to this, their capacities and vulnerabilities vary depending on several factors including age, ethnicity, marital and socio-economic status, and educational level.
Not to mention, sexual and reproductive health and rights gets further deteriorated due to deprioritisation in the context of humanitarian crisis, and is largely missing in the environment and climate discourses. Access to sexual and reproductive health services, including contraceptives, safe abortion services, comprehensive sexuality education are limited, despite the need. This is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic when priorities shifted, and the gender-specific needs of women and girls in all their diversities to adapt and build their resilience to climate change disasters were deprioritised.
We therefore call on Member States to take immediate, concrete measures to address the issues on the nexus between gender equality and climate change with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights for progressive, inclusive and gender responsive policies, financing and implementation at all levels. Our recommendations are:
- Recognise that gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to development, environmental sustainability and achievement of the SDGs, Beijing Platform for Action and ICPD;
- Uphold sexual and reproductive health and rights and acknowledge its co-benefits in contributing to climate adaptation, mitigation and resilience;
- Recognise women in all their diversities as agents of change and ensure they are meaningfully engaged in the planning, financing and implementation of climate responses including in mitigation and adaptation initiatives at all levels, at all times;
- Ensure that national policies, programming and budget related to climate change and disaster risk reduction incorporate gender mainstreaming and sexual and reproductive health and rights and include gender-differentiated impact analysis of climate change disasters and gender equality in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction;
- Close data gaps by collecting accurate, accessible and timely gender-, age- and disability-disaggregated data for gender transformative policies and plans.
Biplabi Shrestha, ARROW.
‘Understanding the gendered impacts of climate change, environment degradation and disaster risk reduction’ session on February 10th 2022
Most countries in Asia and the Pacific are vulnerable to climate risks and disasters, and many countries in the region are located at the top of the most vulnerable countries in the world according to the global risk report assessments. Globally and nationally, policy makers, scientists, researchers and civil society advocates are working towards developing climate change mitigation and adaptation action plans. Unfortunately, until the last few years, women have largely been missing as key actors in the climate negotiations, and gender considerations in decision-making is still not a priority for some governments.
Echoing other speakers, the impact of climate change is not gender-neutral. Gender-differentiated vulnerabilities arise from social status of women in society, lesser access to resources, poor representation in policy making, and low skill and knowledge levels. The disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and girls in all their diversities include the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services; increase in early, child, and forced marriages; gender-based violence; social and economic marginalization; barriers to access to education; and many more. These impacts are a manifestation of gender inequality, which is only exacerbated by gender-blind climate solutions
Women and girls experience marginalization of their sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) during the times of climate-related disasters and humanitarian crisis because SRHR is least prioritized in humanitarian settings; even when they are provided, they tend to be limited to a few maternal health-related services. Damages to sanitation facilities and scarcity of water after disasters, especially toilets and bathrooms not having running water, also restrict menstrual hygiene practices among women and girls. ARROW’s Studies from South and South-East Asia have highlighted problems such as relief kits not including gender-specific essential supplies; inaccessibility of contraceptive services due to damages to roads, bridges or broken communication channels; cyclone shelters not inclusive of the gender-specific needs of privacy.
It is important to incorporate gender considerations and gender-responsive approaches in planning and implementation of climate change resilience and disaster risk reduction (DRR). This would include assessing climate risks from a gender perspective; insitutionalizing mechanisms for hearing perspectives of women and girls in all their diversities; recognizing equal rights of women as stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process; equitable sharing of the benefits of climate finance and action priorities; and gender-responsive monitoring and evaluation.
Shamala Chandrasekaran, ARROW.