While many communities in low and middle-income countries are feeling the impact of extreme weather conditions caused by climate change, it is women and girls who are being disproportionally impacted. All across the world, the risk of sexual violence, domestic violence, and child marriage is increasing for girls as a changing climate impacts their families’ homes and livelihoods.
The Horn of Africa has been affected by intense droughts for four seasons in a row as a result of successive failed rainy seasons. Susan Otieno the Executive Director at ActionAid Kenya, said; ‘It’s a forgotten crisis but if we choose to ignore it, we are telling the girls whom we want to see in school that the world cannot help them. ”
“The priority for mothers is water and so they will take their daughters out of school to walk for miles to gather enough. Girls will miss school and eventually drop out. Then because the family can’t afford to feed their daughter she will be married off, so there are fewer mouths to feed. In time their will be no girls in school and this robs us of any future female leaders.”
”Despite being disproportionately impacted, women are leading the way in responding to the effects of climate change on their communities but greater support is needed.
Flora Vano, Program Manager for ActionAid Vanuatu, said: “We are experiencing six to eight climate disasters each month, which means women must work harder to survive. We don’t want to be told to move to another island or another country. I don’t want to wake up to a new flood or tsunami which will wipe out women and girls in my community. No more planning, it’s time for action.
‘‘Women in my community need to be in spaces like COP27 where they can have their voices heard as they are the best people to provide solutions.”
Farah Kabir, Executive Director at ActionAid Bangladesh, said: “For women and girls, there is no continuity in their lives as they have to move 20-25 times because of extreme weather conditions. Their homes are blown away.
“Why is it that the rest of the world are not coming together on the issue of loss and damage finance? 30 years of discussions on loss and damage and all this has not been acted on. It means women and girls are deprived of their childhoods, of food, of security and girls are married because of hunger. We need to talk about gender justice and the issues of displacement.”
ActionAid is calling for COP27 to set up a new Loss and Damage Funding Facility so that climate-impacted counties can access much-needed funds to recover from the consequences of the climate crisis.
Michelle Higelin, Executive Director, ActionAid Australia, said: “Communities in the Pacific, in Bangladesh, in the Horn of Africa are already experiencing the effects of climate induced loss and damage. Women and girls in climate vulnerable communities need urgent access to loss and damage financing now. They cannot wait another decade or until the next COP for world leaders to agree to establish a Loss and Damage Finance Facility.”
“Australia, as a major polluter, must act with compassion and commit to new and additional funding for loss and damage by the end of COP27. If the Australian government is serious about re-establishing itself as a climate leader in the Asia-Pacific region it must respond to the voices and demands of women on the frontlines of the climate crisis.”
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