IUCN pioneers work on gender equality in tackling climate change impacts

The importance of involving women in preventing and managing disasters is widely recognized but doing so in an effective and holistic way is more challenging.

Women in developing countries play a key role in helping communities adapt to the impacts of climate change, yet their voice is hardly heard in discussions on climate change.

IUCN’s Gender Office is receiving widespread acclaim for promoting a shift in the way countries address the impacts of climate change through its ground-breaking work carried out in countries that put gender equality issues at the core of national planning, policy and implementation.

“There is a growing understanding by governments that the role of women is critical if countries are to respond effectively to the threat and impact of natural disasters made worse by climate change,” said Lorena Aguilar, Global Senior Gender Adviser for IUCN, speaking at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva this week.

The Global Platform, attended by representatives from government, civil society, the private and public sectors, is the foremost international event on disaster risk management.

“Governments are asking IUCN for our assistance and we are ready to respond,” adds Aguilar.

Since 2010, and with support from the Government of Finland, IUCN has developed three climate change strategies involving a number of stakeholders, including in Mozambique, the Central American Region and Jordan. IUCN has received a further 20 formal requests from countries around the world to support similar initiatives: those of Egypt, Haiti, Panama, Costa Rica and Bahrain will be completed by the end of 2011.

“By drawing on methods developed during the last 25 years, we can support countries with the development and implementation of strategies that not only address issues relating to climate change but also, for the first time, also fully incorporate a gender perspective at the core,” continued Aguilar.

“When governments meet at the Rio 2012 conference to assess progress made on sustainable development and discuss international environmental governance, the issue of national implementation–or lack thereof–will be at the forefront of negotiations.”

The fact that gender issues are being discussed in the main programme of the Global Platform rather than in side events, further underlines the growing international recognition of the importance of incorporating gender considerations in disaster risk management at the national level, explains Aguilar.

“As the effects of climate change intensify and communities experience more severe droughts, food shortages, disease and storms,” says Aguilar, “the importance of developing integrated strategies to address the effects of climate change become all the more important. The work conducted by IUCN in this regard provides a solid platform for further action at the local level.”

For more information contact Lorena Aguilar at: lorena.aguilar@iucn.org

Work area: 
Social Policy
Social Policy
Climate Change
South America
North America
East and Southern Africa
West and Central Africa
West Asia
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