Women carrying water in Tharparkar Sindh, Pakistan.
Photo: © SkycopterFilms Archives/Shutterstock

Climate action for women

Disasters affect all genders differently, though women suffering most. Moreover, billions of women don’t have the same economic rights as men.

This year’s International Women’s Day, 8 March 2022, is dedicated to “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” and calls for climate action for women. 

There is rising awareness that disasters affect all genders differently and recent research by UN Women and UNICEF has confirmed this.  Women and girls were found to die in greater numbers and have different and uneven levels of resilience and capacity to recover. For example, 95 per cent of deaths in the Solomon Islands’ 2014 flash floods were women, 55 per cent of deaths in the 2015 earthquake in Nepal were women, and 59 per cent of people displaced following Cyclone Idai in 2019 in Malawi were women. These findings are confirmed by another study, which highlighted that women are 14 times more likely than men to die during a disaster, according to UN Women.

Women’s Resilience to Disasters (WRD) Knowledge Hub

UN Women, in partnership with the Australian Government, launched in February 2022 the global Women’s Resilience to Disasters (WRD) Knowledge Hub to bring together traditionally separate communities, to share knowledge and good practice. It offers a wealth of resources, to help countries secure gender-responsive, disaster-risk-reduction policy frameworks, processes, and practices – placing women’s leadership centre-stage. 

“Around the world, women and girls are leading the charge on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Their experience is a vital resource for others.” said UN Women’s Executive Director, Sima Bahous. “The Hub consolidates access to critical tools on women’s resilience to disasters and provides a platform for amplifying women’s voices.”  

Unequal economic opportunities

Around 2.4 billion women of working age are not afforded equal economic opportunity and 178 countries maintain legal barriers that prevent their full economic participation, according to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2022 report published in March 2022. In 86 countries, women face some form of job restriction and 95 countries do not guarantee equal pay for equal work.

Globally, women still have only three quarters of the legal rights afforded to men. Nevertheless, despite the disproportionate effect on women’s lives and livelihood from the global pandemic, 23 countries reformed their laws in 2021 to take much-needed steps towards advancing women’s economic inclusion, according to the report.

Women in Latin America and the Caribbean have less than three-quarters of the legal rights of men, in South Asia they have only two-thirds of the legal rights of men and in the Middle East and North Africa have, on average, only half of the legal rights that men do. However, the region improved its laws the most, due to reforms in five economies (Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon and Oman).

Sub-Saharan Africa shows a wide range of performance on the Women, Business and the Law index, ranging from 89.4 in Mauritius to 29.4 in Sudan. The region implemented comprehensive reforms, achieving the second highest improvement in the index last year. Gabon stands out, with comprehensive reforms to its civil code and the enactment of a law on the elimination of violence against women. 

(UN Women/World Bank/ile)

Read more on the International Women’s Day

Read more on the Women’s Resilience to Disasters (WRD) Knowledge Hub

Read more on the report Women, Business and the Law

Rural 21, Issue 3/2018: Gender equity

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