Recognise the Rights and Roles of Rural and Indigenous Women in Tackling Climate Change

by Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

Women and men, due to their gender roles and existing unequal power relations between them, have different vulnerabilities and responses to the impact of critical and harmful condition of global climate change. They have differentiated capabilities and preferences regarding policies and measures to tackle the problems. The existing policy framework to tackle climate change, however, is ignorant of unequal power relations between men and women.

APWLD stipulates full integration of gender dimension in addressing climate change in accordance with international human rights, including women’s human rights. APWLD supports the most marginalised women in Asia and the Pacific who are among the most vulnerable to the negative impact of climate change, yet who have least contributed to the cause of climate change.

A research was conducted among rural, indigenous and dalit women in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines who engage in small-scale farming, fishery and other subsistence activities. Although the political, social and economic context of each country in the region differs, the research revealed that impacts of climate change have aggravated gender inequities and worsened situation of women. Already saddled with unjust and discriminatory policies and existing gender norms, women face great difficulty coping with climate change impacts. The lack of clear land tenure system, lack of adequate social services on education, health, water, decent jobs and support for small scale agriculture, fishery and forestry are given factors that have only been worsened with the advent of climate change.

The research results also demonstrated that rural, indigenous and dalit women in those countries are gatekeepers of their ecosystem and communities, struggling to conserve diminishing resources for survival and adaptation. The strategies they have undertaken are family or community-based, low-carbon and more in harmony with natural ecological system. Women are ready to take leadership towards more resilient community building using their knowledge and skills.

APWLD therefore calls for climate change policies at global and national levels that will bring about the following:

§  Integrate gender perspective and ensure non-discrimination against and support for the most marginalized populations, rural, indigenous and dalit women;

§  Recognise the role of rural, indigenous and dalit women in small scale farming, fisheries, hunting and other activities;

§  Provide for  women’s access to and control of land, water and other natural resources as well as access to adequate social services and technology meaningful to strengthening their resilience;

§  Ensure women and their organizations and communities’ direct access to funds catering to their adaptive needs in every sector with adequate resources;

§  Ensure and promote meaningful participation, representation and leadership of women in decision making at all levels;

§  Provide consistent and timely information in relation to climate change science and policy including early warnings of extreme weather events and possible effects in a way that most vulnerable groups including rural, indigenous and dalit women can access in their own languages and other appropriate communication systems.

The briefs of five research reports are available on line.!/apwld

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