Panellists at a seminar to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) have called for the inclusion of women in decision-making processes on climate change as they were the most affected.
According to them, although women bore the brunt of climate change, neither they nor the youth who were seen as the future leaders, were involved in its mitigation processes.
The seminar, which was organised on the local theme: “Climate Change: Empowering the Ghanaian Woman for a sustainable tomorrow,” was organised by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection with support from the European Union, Global Affairs Canada, United Nations, Ghana, ActionAid and STAR Ghana Foundation.
The IWD is a day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women, past, present and future.
This year’s commemoration was marked on Tuesday, March 8, on the international theme: “Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”, with the campaign theme #BreaktheBias.
The international theme seeks to recognise the contribution of women and girls around the world who are leading the campaign on climate change adaptation, mitigation and response to build a more sustainable future for all.
The panellists were Ms Anita Sutha, an educationist; Ms Grace Ampomah Afrifa, Head of Programme, Abantu for Development; Dr Antwi-Boasiako Amoah, a Deputy Director, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Ms Anna Batse, Youth Climate Council, Ghana.
According to the panellists, climate change was impacting negatively on women as they did not have control over resources, access to education, information, equal rights and access to decision-making processes.
That, according to them, impacted negatively on women especially those in local communities who depended on the land for their survival.
They were of the view that the effects of the complications of climate change on women could not be overemphasised as it affected their livelihoods.
Issues such as water shortage, crop failure, among others, they said, were making women in rural communities adopt different strategies to survive.
They were also of the view that although at the national level women seemed to be involved at different levels of finding solutions to climate change, at the local and rural levels where the impact of climate change was felt the most, women were not involved although they had a lot to contribute due to their experiences on the ground.
The panellists said women’s participation and leadership could have transformative effects on their countries and communities.
On the impact of climate change on young people, they said the youth were marginalised in accessing resources while most of them did not have formal employment.
They said although young people were using technology to actively leverage climate change, they were not involved in policy-making processes and their views were not taken.
They therefore called on the need to consciously involve women and the youth in decision making with regard to climate change so as to incorporate their views into mitigation and action processes.
Vulnerable to climate change
Earlier, the Deputy Minister, Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hajia Lariba Zuweira Abudu, said as a country “we should design climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes that reduced women and girls’ unpaid care work while strengthening collaboration with all actors to ensure that gender was adequately mainstreamed in the management of climate change.”
She said women were increasingly being recognised as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men as they constituted the majority of the world’s poor and were more dependent on the natural resources that threatened climate change the most.
According to her, there was therefore the need to recognise and advance gender equality in the context of climate change and disaster risk reduction.
To facilitate the integration of gender concerns into climate change actions and Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), a gender analysis, she said, had been conducted for seven priority sectors of the NDCs which included Agriculture, Energy, Health and Disaster Risk
Reduction, among others, to identify key gaps for gender mainstreaming.
That, she said, had resulted in the development of a National Climate Change Gender Action Plan and Gender Mainstreaming Toolkit for Climate Actions.
The Chairperson for the Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender, Ms Francesca Oteng Mensah, in a statement, said women should not be left out in climate change mitigation programmes but should rather be in the front line.
She said as COVID-19 had exacerbated women’s bias, there was the need for all to commit to work harder for gender equality and called on all to challenge gender norms.
A representative from the Canadian High Commission, Ms Candace Holt, in a remark, called for the need to support women’s empowerment and self-reliance especially in the agricultural sector, including financial autonomy and the ability to purchase land and assets.
She said there was the need for broad-based and integrated solutions that served those who were most at risk, saying, “we need to hear the voices of women”.
The European Union Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Irchad Razaaly, said in Ghana, “46 per cent of business owners are women” and added that this was the highest percentage worldwide and was something to be celebrated.
However, he said “we must also be vigilant to ensure that these women are not disproportionately affected by external challenges such as climate change”.
He called for more quality research on gender and climate change in the country.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr Charles Abani, called for the narratives on women to change, saying unless there was a conscious effort to change this narrative, “it will take 99 years to break the barriers”.
He said without gender equality today, a sustainable change could not happen.