Gender justice is climate justice 2023/10/08

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By: Immaculate Atuhamize* and Bertrand Badré**

KAMPALA/PARIS.– Last June, the Summit for a New Global Financial Compact was held in Paris, with the focus on promoting an inclusive climate action plan that leaves no one behind. As thirteen world leaders emphasized in a joint statement released ahead of the meeting, climate initiatives must not minimize other development issues such as the global fight against poverty.

It is an enormous challenge, especially at a time when centrifugal forces threaten the rules-based international order, while many countries face rising interest rates and high levels of debt. But if international leadership is truly determined to leave no one behind, it must address the specific needs of vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, who make up half of the world's population.

The fifth United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), is inextricably linked to other SDGs, such as those related to health, education and access to water. . Climate change puts all of these interconnected goals at risk and can generate a cascading effect. The climate crisis also aggravates other social problems that affect girls and women, for example gender violence. And the fact that women do most of the unpaid care and household work puts them at a disadvantage when disaster strikes. This is what has happened in Uganda, which has just faced several climate-related catastrophes, for example floods in the east and southwest and a long drought in the north. Since few women receive training in disaster response, it is common for them to die in these circumstances at a higher rate than men. Despite all this, climate policy debates often forget about women and other vulnerable groups. The recent African Youth Climate Assembly (which took place one day before the first African Climate Summit in Nairobi) was an example of the seriousness of this problem.

The African Climate Summit should be a platform for Africans (and particularly young people) to share and propose locally sourced solutions, rather than an opportunity for polluters to promote strategies that perpetuate the crisis. Africa is not a dumping ground, but a continent teeming with innovative thinkers and viable solutions. African climate solutions are global solutions; and the ideas of Africans deserve genuine attention and support.

Any solution that is designed without listening to the opinion of the people directly affected will be insufficient; and marginalizing any one group can have consequences for many other people. Just think about agriculture. Despite the important role of women in this sector, it is common that they do not have the same access as men to resources, services and formal decision-making bodies within the area.

Likewise, Project Drawdown, a coalition of scientists and economists from around the world, points out that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to combat global warming, especially when combined with voluntary family planning. Closing the gender gap in education can help countries adapt to climate change and mitigate its worst effects. Investing in girls' education prepares them for the future they will inherit and reduces the inequalities that many women and girls face today. Integrating the climate issue into school curricula can foster greater ecological awareness and thus contribute to the resilience of communities. No plan related to climate change, especially in emerging and developing economies, can be effective if it does not ensure the social, economic and political participation of women. The next international summits, starting with COP28, must exhibit a firm commitment to gender justice, and transform the mantra of “leave no one behind” from a catchy slogan to concrete actions, at the formulation level. of policies as well as that of grassroots organizations. It is true that taking proactive measures can be costly, but the cost of inaction will be much greater.

*Ugandan climate and gender activist

** Former Managing Director of the World Bank, CEO and Founder of Blue like an Orange Sustainable Capital

Translation: Esteban Flamini.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2023

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