UNDP Pakistan, NCSW host consultations on climate change impacts on women

The consultation provided a platform to engage highly experienced gender and climate change experts, policy practitioners, representatives from the Government, private sector, civil society, academia, and media to discuss how climate change impacts women adversely, and highlight existing mechanisms to reduce these vulnerabilities

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Karachi, (VOM)—Although the worsening climate crisis threatens and affects all humanity, climate change impacts are not gender or wealth neutral but have deeper sociological repercussions too. Given existing gender inequalities resulting from gender discrimination, women remain the worst affected during any type of climate-induced disaster. In Pakistan, during the floods of 2010, a total of 713,000 women aged between 15-49, and 133,000 pregnant women, were reportedly affected. Reports from the time show that over 70 percent of those displaced by flooding in Pakistan in 2010 were women and children. To understand this disadvantage of women, reduce the vulnerabilities of climate-stressed women, and solicit potential feedback, UNDP Pakistan through its Sindh SDGs Support Unit, in collaboration with the National Commission on the Status of Women, organized a Provincial consultation with stakeholders on ‘Women and Climate Change: Impact, Challenges, and Solutions.

This theme is aligned with the upcoming 66th session of the Global Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which is ‘Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies, and programs”. Earlier on, similar consultations were held in Gilgit-Baltistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the same theme.

The consultation provided a platform to engage highly experienced gender and climate change experts, policy practitioners, representatives from the Government, private sector, civil society, academia, and media to discuss how climate change impacts women adversely, and highlight existing mechanisms to reduce these vulnerabilities. It also provided a platform to explore potential solutions to reduce vulnerabilities of climate-stressed women and other marginalized populations.

Speaking on the occasion Chairperson, National Commission on the Status of Women, Ms. Nilofar Bakhtiar said, “As per a UN report, 80% of displaced people in disasters are women. Bu the women of Pakistan are also its greatest resource, and the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan must build upon and utilize this great human potential, and prepare plans and policies which focus on Pakistan’s women at the grassroots level.”

“Pakistan has consistently ranked among the top ten most vulnerable countries in the world owing to poor resilience mechanisms and exposure of disadvantaged groups to extreme weather events. Thereby, at UNDP, we are committed to ensuring that women’s priorities and needs are reflected in climate change planning and funding.,” said Dr. Sabeeh Zaidi, Head of the Management Support Unit, UNDP Pakistan.

Sindh is regarded as a hotspot for climate impacts in Pakistan. The heatwave in Karachi in 2015 caused up to 1500 recorded deaths in the city, and 200 in other cities in Sindh. The floods of 2011 also resulted in an estimated 434 deaths with 5.3 million people being affected. The rising sea levels have not only intensified damage caused by flooding in the province, but have also washed away livelihood opportunities by encroaching on agricultural land and disrupting breeding conditions in local fisheries. Given the fact that women have limited access to land, assets, and financial resources, they are more likely to have greater vulnerability to climate change as compared to men, even with the same degree of exposure. This substantiates the need to address and revaluate national and provincial policy frameworks incorporating gender-responsive planning, and to ensure gender equity in design, procedures, budgeting, and outcomes, to avoid women’s exacerbated vulnerabilities to climate change impact.

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