Women becoming vulnerable to impacts of climate change

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climate change

Dr Bob Offei Manteaw, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies, University of Ghana, says the changing climatic conditions in the country was exacerbating the vulnerability of women.

climate changeHe said women were increasingly becoming vulnerable to the impacts of climate change mainly because they represented majority of the country’s rural poor and dependent on threatened natural resources, including water.He noted that climate change was real and was happening at a rather fast rate and usually manifested in different ways with its impact witnessed through water availability, the lack of it or increased temperature.

Around the country, especially the northern Ghana, he explained that climate change was manifesting in diverse ways with already existing vulnerabilities and a prevalence in poverty levels.

Dr Manteaw, speaking at a roundtable discussion in commemoration of International Women’s Day, said despite the vulnerability of women, there was a need to enhance their skills in mitigating and providing effective and sustainable response to the impacts of climate change.

The stakeholder discussion, organised by the Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), sought to, among other objectives, facilitate the sharing of innovative ideas and practices towards enhancing the rights and socio-economic development of women in Ghana.

Participants, including representatives of CHRAJ, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ubantu for Development, Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies of the University of Ghana, discussed the 2022 international theme: “Breaking the Bias: Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow.”

For instance, Dr Manteaw said, when there was lack of water, it affected agriculture production and women were at the forefront providing for their families by fetching water for the household, waiting longer hours and walking longer distances.

He noted that much of the problems rural women particularly faced were existent even before climate change and that the impact of climate change was exacerbating the current vulnerabilities, which in many ways was also deepening poverty for women.

Government, he said, had been proactive in the provision of policies and frameworks and had been working on building the capacity of local government and districts by helping them to take ownership of climate change governance issues to empower women in adaptation and mitigation strategy.

He called for an increase in awareness and education of the citizenry, especially women, to understand the changing climate and know the signs of impact manifestation to help them adopt by providing them with different alternatives.

“A lot of the time, what they do is using different coping mechanisms but sometimes they are not enough, and the government needs to go to their aid. Stakeholders, donor agencies, development partners, researchers, need to go to help women,” he said.

Mr Joseph Whittal, Commissioner, CHRAJ, in his opening remarks, said there was need to ensure gender equality in policy planning, implementation and monitoring of Ghana’s climate adaptation action at all levels.

He said the promotion and protection of the rights of women in Ghana was non-negotiable, adding that the action was needed in that regard while leveraging efforts towards highlighting key issues affecting women with regards to climate change.

Mr Whittal said more commitment was needed to enable the country to achieve equality at all levels in its governance structure by addressing the deep-seated patriarchal norms which influenced perceptions of women’s capabilities and roles.

The Commissioner reiterated calls for the Government to urgently lay the over a decade-old Affirmative Action Bill before Parliament for its review and immediate passage as it presented great opportunities for the country to benefit from the contribution of more than half of its population and would significantly promote equality in participation and representation in decision making processes.

Mrs Hamida Harrison, Sustainability Manager, Abantu for Development, said unfortunately, the absence of women in policy and front-line decision-taking institutions, as well as their limited access to and control of resources such as land, finance, and technology, lack of knowledge of the phenomenon and normative and structural barriers continued to complicate their resilience efforts.

She, therefore, Called for integration of gender in climate change policies and increased demands for gender inclusion in climate change policy discourse.

By James Amoh Junior/Emelia Nkrumah

 

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