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Disasters, Climate Change and Gender Inter-American Commission of Women 34a Assembly Santiago, Chile November 10-12, 2008 Ana Lya Uriarte Minister Chairperson.

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Presentation on theme: "Disasters, Climate Change and Gender Inter-American Commission of Women 34a Assembly Santiago, Chile November 10-12, 2008 Ana Lya Uriarte Minister Chairperson."— Presentation transcript:

1 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender Inter-American Commission of Women 34a Assembly Santiago, Chile November 10-12, Ana Lya Uriarte Minister Chairperson of the National Commission for the Environment of Chile

2 “Natural” Disasters Natural disasters triggered by natural threats such as floods, droughts, storms, tsunamis, earthquakes and mud-slides are increasing due to unsustainable development and to climate change. These events continue to claim thousands of human lives every year. In developing countries, economic losses exceed international assistance and, sometimes, even the country’s gross domestic product. Natural Disasters Frequency, * Source: ISDR

3 Risk of Disasters: a heavy load on the poor
In the last decade disasters affected 2.5 billion people and cost US$570 billion. They also claimed 889,000 lives. The main threats are climate-related – floods, storms and droughts. Poorer countries are affected five times as much as richer countries (97% of victims live in developing countries). Vulnerability to natural disasters is increasing due to land degradation, poorly planned settlements, lack of information, gender inequity and poverty.

4 Risk of Major Disasters and Climate Change
Evidence of more intense and more frequent extreme events (4th IPCC Report) – increase in temperature, loss of glaciers and the polar ice cap, drought, intense rains, heat waves, stronger tropical hurricanes. Populated deltas in Asia, small island states and Africa are among the most severely affected. Impact suffered in two ways (i) more extreme events and (ii) higher degree of vulnerability to risk – due to stress on the ecosystem and water resources. Large gaps in knowledge of specific human and economic consequences.

5 Climate Change and Sustainable Development
Climate change is and will be a serious threat to sustainable development. Some impact has already been observed and more is expected to affect the environment, energy, human health, food safety, the economy, natural resources and physical infrastructure. According to the IPCC, climate change is already taking place and it will accelerate affecting regions, generations, different age and income groups, and, mostly, the poor in specific ways. There is a need for policies and actions to adapt to climate change that incorporate knowledge and experience in disaster risk mitigation.

6 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender
Several global processes have recognized the importance of gender equity. The Beijing Platform for Action, which provided valuable guidance to many international systems. The 2nd World Conference on Disaster Mitigation (2005), which produced the Hyogo Framework for Action, emphasized the need to mainstream gender in all decision making processes in disaster management. Unfortunately, there has been no mention of gender in most climate change negotiations.

7 Human impact by type of disaster: Comparison 2004-2005
Total Affected Total Deaths Wind storm Fire Wave/Surge (tsunami) Flood Volcano Mud Slide Extreme Temperature Epidemic Earthquake Drought Total

8 Distribution of Disaster by Income Level
Fuente: J. García, ISDR

9 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender
Although there are no specific data compiled on the impact of extreme phenomena by gender, it is estimated that 3 to 5 women die for every man who perishes due to extreme phenomena. 90% of the 140,000 victims in Bangladesh in 1991 were women. 56% of the tsunami victims in Indonesia in 2004 were women. Women and children are 14 times more likely to die than men ¿Why the difference?

10 Fuente: Comisión sobre el Status de la Mujer, NU
Disasters, Climate Change and Gender ¿Why this difference? We cannot hold the simplistic view that women are victims because of their sex. Women are not vulnerable because they are “naturally weak:” men and women confront different vulnerabilities because of their gender. The difference in the number of deaths due to natural disasters is directly tied to women’s economic and social rights. If these are not protected, more women than men will die. Fuente: Comisión sobre el Status de la Mujer, NU

11 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender ¿Why this difference?
Whether it is carrying out prevention activities or during disasters, women play an important role in providing assistance to family and community. But they are disproportionately affected by disasters and, often, they face gender based violence and exploitation following disasters. Women are much more vulnerable because of their subordinate position in the family, which stems from traditional and patriarchal cultural values. They are often excluded in the design and planning of disaster responses which means that their needs are not being adequately addressed.

12 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender ¿Why this difference?
Usually, women and young girls are responsible for gathering firewood and water. Climate change will increase their workload due to the reduced availability of water and other resources. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to water related diseases. The anemia produced by malaria is responsible for one fourth of those deaths. Climate change will exacerbate their vulnerability to disease and epidemics. Women are the main producers of basic crops in the world, providing up to 90% of the food consumed in poor rural areas, and about 60-80% of the food consumed in many developing countries. Climate change will continue to affect their activity because it is already impacting food safety around the world.

13 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender ¿Why this difference?
Due to economic needs, it is more likely that men will migrate either seasonally or for a few years. The households headed by women are often the poorest. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 80% of the world’s refugees are women and children. “Housewives and young mothers affected and displaced by floods, have a more difficult time finding paid employment. Last, the unequal workload, due to productive and reproductive responsibilities, lack of control over the means of production, restricted mobility, limited educational and employment opportunities, and inequality in food consumption with regard to men, make women more vulnerable.

14 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender
If that is the situation, what can be done about it? Understand that women, who comprise the majority of the world’s population, are agents of change, who play a significant role in global efforts undertaken to address climate change and its adverse impact. Identify and analyze gender specific impact related to floods, drought, heat waves, disease, and other environmental changes and disasters. Mainstream gender in all initiatives relating to disaster risk mitigation.

15 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender
If that is the situation, what can be done about it? Mainstream gender in the processes established in the Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol: Guarantee that women and gender experts, both men and women, participate in all decisions pertaining to climate change. Support the development of a gender strategy or plan of action under the provisions of the Convention. Increase women’s equal access to market approaches such as the Clean Development Mechanism. Ensure gender equity in all phases and aspects of financial mechanisms (design, implementation, evaluation of proposals, etc.).

16 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender
If that is the situation, what can be done about it? Build capacity in and provide resources to women groups and women organizations, taking into account culture and traditional knowledge, in order to support the role of women in disaster management and climate change. Mainstream gender in communications, education and training, develop curriculum standards, and include gender in formal and informal education and skill development programs. Ensure that women are provided opportunities and participate in science and technology by increasing financial support, and by developing a gender specific risk mitigation agenda.

17 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender: Conclusion
Gender equity is perhaps the most important goal in the area of climate change and disaster mitigation, since it helps to reduce risk and vulnerability in an effective and sustainable manner. There is still a lot to be done in order to implement the aforementioned recommendations. There is a growing number of examples of best practices, but the needs are greater. Unplanned urban expansion, environmental degradation and global warming are some of the most significant threats. There are enormous gaps that can only be filled by the coordinated actions of governments and international organizations to give these subject areas high priority.

18 Disasters, Climate Change and Gender: Conclusion

19 Thank you!

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