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Climate change’s assault on ecosystems is violence against women
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Climate change’s assault on ecosystems is violence against women

Climate change’s assault on ecosystems is violence against women


Women account for 80 percent of the millions of people who are displaced each year by the climate crisis. This astounding figure comes from a United Nations Development Program policy briefThis was done to raise alarm about the climate emergency’s gender-specific effects.

This is an issue that I will raise at the annual international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based ViolenceThe campaign runs from Nov. 25, to Dec. 10, when women worldwide and their allies raise the alarm about ongoing violations of women’s human rights.

Following 13 days of climate negotiations in GlasgowIn this country, women made up a small percentage of the negotiating table. This is not surprising. Women are forever excluded from decision-making regarding the most significant issues that affect them.

Women were very much present and vocal at last month’s COP26 conference — outside the formal negotiations. Their voices rang out in public. This was no easy feat. It was a huge financial undertaking, especially for Indigenous women who use natural resources and ecosystems every day. They see the climate emergency as a serious problem that requires immediate action.

Judging from COP26’s disappointing outcomesThis urgency was missing in the male-dominated inner circle.

Indigenous women land defenders are among the first to say that the climate crisis is an attack against women just like it is against Mother Earth. They defend land and water from extractive projects that fuel global warming or claim to solve it.

“The abuse is not just against the land,” said the late Gloria Chicaiza of Acción Ecológica in Ecuador, a KAIROS partner. “These two things are linked for us: the exploitation of land and the exploitation of women’s bodies.”

These projects, whether for fossil fuels, or for precious metals required for electric vehicles, often lead to domestic and sexual violence and damage ecosystems that harm women, as well as communities that rely on them for their well being.

People most affected by the climate emergency and the extractive economy are overlooked.

Globally, KAIROS’ women-led partner organizations tell us of disrupted rainfall patterns causing either drought, which forces women further afield to find water, making them more prone to violence, or flooding, which displaces communities and destroys precious crops.

To be truly feminist, Canada must fully consult women — particularly land and water defenders — to lay the groundwork for community-driven and inclusive clean energy economies, writes Jane Thirikwa with @kairoscanada. #16StoriesofCourage

Climate change is a threat to communities. This leads to an increase in domestic violence and forces many to move domestically or internationally, making them more vulnerable to abuse. Girls and women from poor households are less likely than others to receive education, and more likely to be forced to marry young.

Canada and the international community recognize the effects of climate crisis on gender, at least theoretically. The United Nations’ fifthSustainable Development Goal aims at gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. COP26 also included a Gender DayWhere women leaders are flaggedThe dearth of overseas development that focuses on gender equity.

Canada is a Feminist International Assistance Policy, which has been inadequately funded. Canada promisedIt will increase its gender equality efforts by the end of the fiscal year and invest not less than 95% of bilateral international assistance to reach these goals.

Such policy is effective — if well-funded. Women feel the impacts of climate change very strongly and offer valuable mitigation and adaptation strategies. They are often the ones leading the charge in community-based, regenerative farming and tree seedling, crucial in sequestering CO2 and restoring resilient local ecologies.

Women are the glue that binds families together and communities. They are at the center of building better.

While the Canadian government is wise in developing feminist policies, including a feminist foreign policy, to tackle the complex and intersecting issues of poverty, conflict and the climate crisis, these policies are significantly compromised by Canada’s diplomatic and financial support for the profit-driven extractive economy, which violates ecosystems and women.

To be truly feminist, Canada must fully consult women — particularly land and water defenders — to lay the groundwork for community-driven and inclusive clean energy economies, and must fully invest in these efforts. Extractive companies — two thirds of which are headquartered in Canada — must be made fully accountable for their actions.

During these 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, let us not forget that ecosystems and women’s bodies are intrinsically linked.

Jane Thirikwa serves as the global partnerships coordinator for KAIROS Canada. She has extensive expertise and experience in social justice work, including gender equality and women’s empowerment, women’s human rights, advocacy and fundraising for grassroots organizations.


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