SRHR issues are climate change issues!

September 30, 2014 CC SRHR Photo 2

ARROW attended the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change and the United Nation Secretary General’s Climate Change Summit 2014 that were held in New York. ARROW also participated in the People’s Climate March, which was estimated to have been attended by around 400,000 people.

ARROW issued a public statement for the UN Secretary General’s Climate Change Summit. It stresses that evidence from the ground in Asia-Pacific demonstrates how climate change will not only exacerbate already challenging developmental contexts which form the basis for SRHR, but also that climate change continues to erode the advancement of SRHR.

Public Statement for the UNSG’s Climate Change Summit

SRHR ISSUES ARE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES!

ARROW and her partners commend the UN Secretary General (UNSG), His Excellency Mr. Ban-Ki Moon, for the UN’s efforts to mobilize world leaders, civil society organizations, women and youth representatives to address the global climate crises. We commend the UNSG for catalysing global action and ambition to facilitate a global climate change agreement in Paris in 2015 and to advance equitable Sustainable Development Goals. In the build up to the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Lima, Peru in 2014, and the first UNSG’s Climate Change Summit on 23 September 2014, ARROW and her partners wish to draw attention to the critical linkages between climate change and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

In the Asia-Pacific region, the relationship between climate change and SRHR is marked. Evidence from the ground demonstrates how climate change will not only exacerbate already challenging developmental contexts which form the basis for SRHR, but also how climate change continues to erode the advancement of SRHR.

In Bangladesh, during cyclone-related disasters, critical family planning services are not available for women in need and pregnant women are at risk of death and injury. The design of cyclone shelters in Bangladesh is not found to be gender-friendly, as reported by women in coastal communities, increasing these women’s risk to violence. Unhygienic water use leads to gynaecological problems.[i]
In Pakistan, due to floods, women living in camps often experience difficulty in accessing reproductive health services. An insecure environment in camps has often led to lack of privacy for women, especially a lack of shelter and toilets for pregnant women.[ii]

In the Philippines, climate change exacerbates coastal community vulnerability which increases pressure on bio-diversity assets, increases human health risks and threatens human populations and settlements. This will lead to displacement of women and children from existing settlements and challenges in accessing health, and reproductive health services. [iii]

In Nepal, impoverishment and displacement following disaster, can increase exposure to disease, including HIV and disrupt health care. Access to sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception, is seriously hampered by harmful effects of climate change, thereby limiting options for women and young people to plan their families and further hampering a community’s ability to respond to climate change.[iv]

In Maldives, adequate and comprehensive health care is not provided at island level and is provided at atoll or regional level hospitals and women have to bear the burden of travelling to those islands where services are provided.[v]

In Laos PDR, climate change will lead to a decrease in food production, an increase in water-borne diseases and a poor health care system. All of these have an adverse impact on the realisation of women’s health especially their sexual and reproductive health such as low-weight births, increase in miscarriages and perinatal mortality. [vi]

In Indonesia, in disaster prone regions such as West Java, the displacement of women shelters are not gender-sensitive, family planning services are not available, and women are exposed to an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Women’s SRHR needs might not be incorporated into post-disaster recovery efforts. Studies have also found that women have lesser roles in decision-making structures in post-disaster recovery efforts.[vii]

Climate change will worsen current developmental conditions and will force governments to redefine their development priorities especially when dealing with the aftermath of disasters.[viii] The relationship between climate change and sexual and reproductive health and rights is a complex one, which however one that requires critical thinking and analysis but of which significance we cannot ignore.[ix] Discussions around population dynamics and population control pose many challenges for sexual and reproductive health and rights as these discussions can evade the importance of rights based approaches to advance universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.[x] Under no circumstance should climate change interventions be used as an excuse to violate individual women’s sexual and reproductive rights or to abandon the respect for, promotion and fulfilment of human rights.
As the UN Secretary General begins to mobilize world leaders and civil society for to accelerate progress for a global climate change agreements, this year, we hope that the UN Secretary- General will continue to champion the rights of women and girls, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, during and beyond the international climate change negotiations processes and the UNSG’s Climate Summit.

As we progress into the international processes that will determine the outcomes at the COP as well as the Post- 2015 process, we encourage governments to champion the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls.

We strongly recommend that the international climate change process including the UN’s landmark Climate Summit, factors in the following goals for gender equality and SRHR:

ENSURE policy coherence between government policies and commitments to gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate change plans and budgets.[xi]

ENSURE the participation of women in disaster risk management, including in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes

SUPPORT the review and strengthening of National Adaptation Plans (NAPS) to include sexual and reproductive health and rights, including integration into adaptation and disaster responses.[xii]

ENCOURAGE donor countries, foundation, climate financing mechanisms including but not limited to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to earmark resources for projects addressing gender equality and climate change and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of climate change.[xiii]

ENSURE that national climate change responses adequately and effectively mainstream gender and the differentiated needs of women and girls who are impacted by disasters and that national climate change responses are adequately budgeted to factor in the needs of women and girls during climate related events and disasters. [xiv]

Endnotes and References

[i] As reported by ARROW partner, the Khan Foundation in Bangladesh
[ii] As reported by ARROW partner, the Sindh Community Foundation in Pakistan
[iii] As reported by ARROW partner, the Path Foundation in Philippines
[iv] As reported by ARROW partner, the Women’s Rehabilitation Center in Nepal
[v] As reported by ARROW partner, Huvadhoo Aid in the Maldives
[vi] As reported by ARROW partner, the University of Health Sciences in Lao PDR
[vii] As reported by ARROW partner, Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan in Indonesia.
[viii] SRHR is generally understood to include reproductive health, rights and access to services, including access to adequate contraceptive information and supplies, full antenatal care and trained attendants, as well as emergency obstetric services in pregnancy and childbirth and access to safe and legal abortion and post abortion care. They also include access to good quality, affordable health care, especially preventive care, and to treatment, prevention and palliative care and essential lifesaving medicines for those suffering from or at risk of HIV and other preventable and infectious diseases.
[ix] Hartmann. (2009). 10 reasons why population control is not the solution to global warming Population and Development. Different Takes Climate Change Series, 59. Retrieved from http://popdev.hampshire.edu/sites/default/files/uploads/u4763/DT%2057%20-%20Hartmann.pdf
[x] Sillimann, J. “ “In search of climate justice: Refuting dubious linkages, affirming rights.” ARROWs For Change, Vol. 15 No. 1. P.1. Available at http://arrow.org.my/home/images/publications/AFC/v15n1.pdf
[xi] Woods, Zonnibel. (2014). “Identifying opportunities for action on climate change and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.” Kuala Lumpur: ARROW. http://arrow.org.my/download/Scoping%20Study%20-%20Climate%20Change%20and%20SRHR.pdf
[xii] Woods, Zonnibel. (2014). “Identifying opportunities for action on climate change and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.” Kuala Lumpur: ARROW. http://arrow.org.my/download/Scoping%20Study%20-%20Climate%20Change%20and%20SRHR.pdf
[xiii]Woods, Zonnibel. (2014). “Identifying opportunities for action on climate change and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.” Kuala Lumpur: ARROW. http://arrow.org.my/download/Scoping%20Study%20-%20Climate%20Change%20and%20SRHR.pdf
[xiv] Woods, Zonnibel. (2014). “Identifying opportunities for action on climate change and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.” Kuala Lumpur: ARROW. http://arrow.org.my/download/Scoping%20Study%20-%20Climate%20Change%20and%20SRHR.pdf

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