Due to food crisis brought about by climate change, some parents in sub-Saharan Africa are painfully marrying off their daughters to secure dowry for survival in what is known here in Kenya as ‘famine Marriages’. Again ongoing droughts has worsened civil conflicts in volatile zone and fight for water and pasture, the little resources available has made the nomad communities literally go into hunting one another. With the extended climate vagaries, pasture and water resources are diminishing by each passing day with tension building up at grazing fields in Africa.
Gender dimensions have been integrated into major National Climate Change Response Strategies providing recommendations for strengthening the policies and the climate change management approaches. Climate change perpetuates gender inequality as women and the poorer members of the society are disproportionately vulnerable to and affected by climate change.
Climate change is a reality not only in Kenya but also the world, with global warming and extreme erratic weather patterns overwhelming the power of technology and man’s effort to a lasting solution. The world for the past few years is experiencing extreme climate changes ranging from over freezing, extreme warm summers and this has affected the normal working of mankind. Man is facing reality that nature still is in control.
The key issues of focus that continue to shape the global debate are mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, governance, role of land-use and land use change in climate mitigation especially in developing countries. In creating understanding of the global policy, it is imperative that the international sustainable development policies and frameworks relating to women and gender are brought into perspective and the link between them be strongly emphasized.
Risks and climate impacts are disproportionately borne by different social groups. Women in many contexts are disproportionately affected by these impacts because of their roles, unequal access, restricted rights and control of resources mentioned above and limited mobility.
Africa continent is unjustifiably and mostly affected by climate change although it contributes minimally to the problem. Mostly the ‘African woman’ in marginalized areas is bearing the brunt of climate impacts.
Women generally are intimately connected to the environment more than men. They are the main producers of staple crops; provide up to 80% of food for the rural poor. African smallholder farming women contribute a great percent in economy stability especially food production. A big number of these women in Africa who are smallholder farmers depend on ecosystems threatened by climate changes and prolonged drought has exposed these women to emerging issues brought by climate extremes. Crop production is expected to decline by 20-50% potentially affecting women more
Also Women are more vulnerable to nutritional problems (50% of women and children in developing countries are anemic). A great percent of sub-Saharan Africa women look after children and work on farmlands in rural areas while their men job in capital cities. Greatly, these Women primarily spend more time collecting water, gathering firewood and prolonged drought has forced women to walk and travel long distances to get water. Climate variability initiates malaria epidemics amongst other diseases- this impacts have more severe impacts on women who have less access to medical services and who then have to spend more time tending to the sick.
Women are also the major direct consumers of biomass and kerosene at household levels. There is need to involve them in any carbon fund modalities e.g. afforestation programs that would restore soil erosion, rainfall patterns and support Hydro plants
Young girls in sub-Saharan Africa drop out of school daily at a deafening rate as search for social amenities keep on consuming their time to get a good education altering priorities in survival battle. Example of these places is Turkana and Samburu in Kenya. This makes them vulnerable to rapes, social abuse and abduction widely witnessed in conflict ridden territories. Women in these marginalized zones are left with hard choices and trade-off between food, water, their health, education or even their spirituality. Worst also, social obstacles to mobility have caused extreme assaults and negative impact because women are tied to social and family roles. And these do not allow them to flee or migrate freely like men in case of natural disasters.
Roles of Sub-Saharan Women in the society, communities, region and also family is increasing their burden brought about by climate change issues. Climate change has negatively impacted women and children in volatile zone especially the devastating death rates during natural disasters.
As climate change wrathful impact pour down on mankind, a big percent of once decent smallholder women farmers’ from sub-Saharan Africa are drifting to immoral trades to earn an extra dollar to supplement their diminutive income and support their family. This has exposed many sub-Saharan Africa women to the dreadful HIV/Aids. Their desire to survive and support their family has forced them to self denial which shadows their right to good health, good life and equal opportunities, exposing them to abuse.
Climate summits are significant occasions in environmental negotiations and developing nation hopefully have waited for a climate deal that addresses the crisis significantly expecting the rest of the world to develop a new mechanism that will ensure the gains recorded during the Kyoto implementation are not lost, and remove the weaknesses within the global climate mitigation Protocols. Global partnerships plus un-skeptical global leadership should be towards initiatives to work together to promote environmental betterment and an added voice of women. This is a force to reckon, a crucial move that will help address environmental issues and challenges facing the world. A new mechanism is needed, that will afford environmental justice to developing, and least developed economies
Placing women at the heart of sustainable development strategies in climate mitigation is the much needed drive that will serve as a sound track for the clean future action, climate change mitigation and global warming awareness tool. And Educating sub-Saharan smallholding farming women on impact and implication of climate change is essential in the green future drive. Practically, by providing them with good knowledge, extended services on appropriate technological innovation, storage facilities and resource management will make climate change mitigation and adaptation goal achievable.
Women position in climate change mitigation and adaption is fundamental in defining development of world’s economies. Increased awareness, creation of a good understanding on climate adaptation is significant with first priorities given for women in local, national, regional and global decision making.
Women are the key to Africa’s climate mitigation and adaption battle. They see things all round.
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