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Updated: December 10, 2011 00:19 IST

Women bear the brunt of climate change

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A Nepalese woman on the outskirts of Kathmandu recently.
Photo: AFP A Nepalese woman on the outskirts of Kathmandu recently.

Women, particularly those living in the mountainous regions in developing countries, face disproportionately high risks to their livelihoods and health from global warming, says a U.N. report on Climate Change.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report titled ‘Women at the Frontline of Climate Change: Gender Risks and Hopes' says investing in low-carbon and efficient green technologies, water harvesting and fuel wood alternatives can strengthen climate change adaptation and improve women's livelihoods.

The report was released at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, according to a press release issued by the ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development) headquartered in Kathmandu.

Impacts of climate change, such as droughts, floods and mud slips are affecting a growing number of people worldwide, according to the report.

“From 1999-2008, floods affected almost one billion people in Asia, 28 million in the Americas, 22 million in Africa and four million in Europe.”

In parts of Asia and Africa, where the majority of the agricultural workforce are women, such disasters have a major impact on their income, food security and health.

“Women often play a stronger role than men in the management of ecosystem services and food security. Hence, sustainable adaptation must focus on gender and the role of women if it is to become successful,” said U.N. Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“Women's voices, responsibilities and knowledge on the environment and the challenges they face will need to be made a central part of governments' adaptive responses to a rapidly changing climate,” he added.

The reports also highlights how organised human trafficking, especially that of women, is emerging as a potentially serious risk associated with climate-related disasters; as floods or landslips disrupt social safety nets.

Keywords: climate change

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