Why Gender Equality Matters: Forum on Climate Change

April 22, 2011
Editor: Wang Yuxia

The UN System in China and the All-China Women's Federation held today, on the occasion of World Earth Day, the Forum on Climate Change, Disaster Risk, and Women: Why Gender Equality Matters, in Beijing.

"Climate change will affect everyone on the planet, but some people more than others. Those at greatest risk of harm from climate change include women and girls," Abhimanyu Singh, director and representative of UNESCO in China and chairperson of the UN Theme Group on Gender, said at the meeting.

The UN System in China and the All-China Women's Federation Forum on Climate Change, Disaster Risk, and Women: Why Gender Equality Matters, held today -- World Earth Day -- in Beijing. [Women of China / Fan Wenjun]

The UN System in China and the All-China Women's Federation Forum on Climate Change, Disaster Risk, and Women: Why Gender Equality Matters, held today -- World Earth Day -- in Beijing. [Women of China / Fan Wenjun]

Climate change is predicted to hurt the poor more than the rich and to inflict particular harm on poor farmers. Globally, women constitute 70% of the world's poor and 70-80% of the world's farmers. But women and girls are not just potential victims; they are also crucial actors whose empowerment is vital to effectively addressing climate change and disaster risks. Experts from the International Labor Organization (ILO), World Health Organization (WHO), Ministry of Civil Affairs, Ministry of Water Resources, National Working Committee on Children and Women and Lanzhou University gave presentations at the meeting on the linkages between gender equality and climate change/disaster risk.

Zhao Donghua, vice president and member of the Secretariat of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), expressed expectations that the ACWF will enhance women's capacity to adapt to and mitigate climate change and natural disasters.

"The ACWF will incorporate climate change education into local women's federation work and help women play their critical role in tackling natural disasters," Zhao said, adding, "The ACWF will also communicate the needs of women and children to relevant departments."

"Women have essential knowledge on natural resource management, including types of farming, planting, and seeding," expert at the ILO Office for China and Mongolia Satoshi Sasaki said, adding, however, that they "have less access than men to adapt to climate change – namely less access to land, credit, agricultural inputs, decision-making, technology and training."

"Technology is not neutral. It often controlled by men," Professor Ding Wenguang of Lanzhou University said. Professor Ding went on to say that learning how to use technology, such as biogas digesters, solar energy heaters, gasification stoves and rain water cisterns will help to empower women in their families and communities.

"One in every five women and girls in the world is Chinese," Abhimanyu Singh said. "As a nation, China also has a crucial role to play in limiting carbon emissions and reducing the harm caused by climate change. What happens here – in terms of climate and gender efforts – will have significant global effects. "

UN agencies co-sponsoring the event include the ILO, UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF, UNIDO, UN Women and WHO.

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