According to UN Women, climate change requires a gendered response. In the aftermath of the disasters, women and girls, especially in developing countries, are disproportionately vulnerable to greater risks. During natural disasters, there are spikes in violence against women, illegal land grabs, maternal deaths, hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. Women are the first to drop out of school and last to receive adequate food and nutrition, all while bearing the consequences of poor sanitation and hygiene.
Climate change requires action by different sectors on multiple fronts. The private sector’s role in empowering women to better mitigate such disruption is particularly crucial. For instance, businesses face “supply chain” risks such as water scarcity, an issue threatening consistent production and requiring adaptive solutions. Because women make up over half of the world’s agricultural workforce, environmental risks further compound extant barriers for women in areas such as education, income, and technology. Since, women are often early adopters of new agricultural techniques, entrepreneurs of green energy, or decision-makers at home, they are critical agents for change. Coordinating with private investment empowers these women to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change in their communities.
UN Women Flagship Program Initiative
UN Women works to address women’s vulnerabilities to climate change and empowers them to lead sustainable development efforts. For instance, in Seychelles, a 115-island nation in the Indian Ocean, women balance many socioeconomic roles, from workers and entrepreneurs to mothers and caregivers. As ocean degradation can critically affect their livelihoods, women have lead a movement seeking practical solutions for countering the phenomenon’s negative effects. Recently, their advocacy helped propel a coalition to ban plastic use in the country.
To support many such vulnerable women, UN Women has launched “Gender Inequality of Risk”, a flagship program in partnership with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC). Its key objectives are reducing loss of life and livelihoods and enhancing the resilience of communities to natural hazards in a changing climate.
In its flagship program addressing these risks, UN Women identifies essential actions public and private actors must achieve for transformative change, proposing private sector investment to expand social protections, insurance coverage, and entrepreneurial ventures.
Gender Action Plan
The aim of the Gender Action Plan is to ensure that women can influence climate change decisions, and that women and men are represented equally in all aspects of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as a way to increase its effectiveness.
The Gender Action Plan sets out, in five priority areas, the activities that will help achieve this objective. These range from increasing knowledge and capacities of women and men through workshops and information exchanges, so that they can systematically integrate gender considerations in all areas of their work, to pursuing the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in national delegations, including women from grassroots organizations, local and indigenous peoples and women from Small Island Developing States.
Source: (UN Women)
Private Sector Response to UN Women Efforts
Allocating resources into women's hands unlocks areas of productivity, drives collective action, and fuels innovative solutions to meet shared global environmental challenges. UN Women’s partnerships furthering gendered climate resilience allow private capital to invest in skill-building programs for women, empowering them to design contextual environmental programs.
Some Critical partnerships include:
Open Society Foundation: UN Women’s flagship program initiative on “Women’s empowerment through climate-resilient agriculture” is based on UN Women’s experience that strengthening resilience requires an integrated approach that simultaneously addresses the structural barriers women farmers face within the context of a changing climate. OSF’s funding is directed towards the “Global policy support project”, which is supporting the implementation of the flagship program by developing methodologies to assess the gender gap and improve data collection, providing technical assistance, building global and regional partnerships, convening communities of practice, and ensuring knowledge management
PROYA Cosmetics Co. Ltd: A notable impact of the partnership was the production and dissemination of the research report “Gender dimensions of vulnerability to climate change in China” in English and Mandarin. The report made available new evidence of the differential impacts of climate change and disasters on men and women. At the time of publication, this knowledge product represented the most comprehensive research available on gender and climate change in China. The dissemination of the research findings by UN Women and UN Women’s partners resulted in more than 150,000 people’s enhancing their knowledge of the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change and disasters.
(Source: UN Women)
UN Women USA Efforts
In the immediate response to the Hurricane Irma, UN Women USA raised donations to support the distribution of dignity kits containing basic health and hygiene products for displaced women and girls, such as soap, underwear and sanitary napkins.
In the longer term, with the help of UN Women USA’S efforts, UN Women will provide continuing technical expertise and financial support for economic initiatives to ensure that women have access to resources to get themselves and their families back on their feet, and to address safety and security concerns.
Sustainable Development Goals
Through its efforts, UN Women USA is directly and indirectly contributing to the achievement of seven Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- SDG 1: No poverty
- SDG 2: Zero hunger
- SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
- SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- SDG 10: Reduced inequalities
- SDG 13: Climate action
- SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals