‘WOMEN MUST LEAD WAR ON CLIMATE CHANGE’

WOMEN are effective actors or agents of change in relation to both mitigation and adaptation and often have a strong body of knowledge and expertise that can be used in climate change mitigation, disaster reduction and adaptation strategies, says the Zambia Alliance of Women.

‘‘Women constitute the majority of Zambia’s poor and are more dependent on natural resources for their livelihood and know better,’’ says ZAW executive director Edna Chimya.

Ms. Chimya said women tend to hold less negotiating power and control over resources than men, which feeds into the lack of access to decision-making processes and renders them more vulnerable to the impacts of disaster.

Ms. Chimya said women were disproportionately affected by disasters but were rarely included in disaster planning; they therefore face social, economic and political barriers that limit their coping capacity.

‘‘Women are responsible to secure water, food and fuel for cooking and heating; disasters exacerbate pre-existing barriers and inequalities for women, exposing them to even greater risk in their multiple roles as food producers and providers, health guardians, economic actors and care-givers.

‘‘Women’s equal access to productive resources will increase productivity,’’ she said.

Ms. Chimya said women were also effective agents of change in relation to both mitigation and adaptation and often have a strong body of knowledge and expertise that can be used in climate change mitigation, disaster reduction and adaptation strategies.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (2011) estimates, if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 per cent, and raise total agricultural output in many developing countries by 2.5–4 per cent, and significantly reduce household food insecurity.

Ms Chimya said women’s responsibilities in households and communities as stewards of natural and household resources position them well to contribute to livelihood strategies adapted to changing environmental realities.

She called for women to be included in consultation and participate fully in climate change mitigation and adaptation decisions as they played a key role in agriculture, health, water resources, energy, human settlement and biodiversity.

‘’Without the full participation and contribution of women in decision-making and leadership, real community resilience to disasters cannot be achieved,’’she said.

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