Women can play big role in climate change — Loren

PNS — Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday (Oct. 20) urged Filipino women to play a stronger role in lowering the risks from climate change, such as the huge casualties and property damage caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

“Women are powerful agents of change in the overall climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts,” Loren said in a speech at the National Women’s Summit in Miriam College in Manila.

“Many current policies have not recognized the gender-specific effects of climate change. This is a crucial issue to address, for it is women that bear the load of climate change’s savagery,” she declared.

Loren deplored that while women play a positive role in Philippine society, they are the most vulnerable, with women accounting for the largest number of poor persons, around12.8 million in 2006. She also said that women receive less medical attention than men.

“Poverty takes the hardest toll on women in the family. They are the mothers who manage the household finances in their families. A starving mother carrying her ailing child is often the public face of famines and food shortages,” she said. But they play vital roles against climate change.

“Women can spearhead the re-education of families. Women can alter how they manage the family households. They could promote zero-waste in our backyard and in our communities.

Mothers can teach children to be environmentally friendly and promote recycling in our communities.

Mothers can also promote the use renewable forms of household energy such as biomass.

‘Women can also encourage behavioural changes in children’s attitude towards economic development, one that is respectful of the environment. “Therefore, efforts to combat climate change and mitigate the risks and challenges it poses to communities should be gender sensitive and gender responsive. It is time to redress the subordinate position of women in all spheres of their lives,” she declared.

Loren said women need solid grounding on issues such as climate change politics, climate protection and preparedness through disaster risk reduction. Education and information are vital part of the effort to make women truly active in mitigation.

“Programs should explore how they might contribute to enable women and men’s autonomous adaptation efforts, since we recognize that people adapt to climate change on their own. We should then lift the social, cultural and institutional barriers that constrain women from effectively adapting to climate change effects in order to seek welfare and well-being for themselves and their families.

“Gender concerns and perspectives must also be integrated into policies and programs for sustainable development. Assessments on women’s susceptibility or exposure to the degradation of the environment and hazards must also be conducted.

“To assess the impacts of development and environmental policies on women, mechanisms at all levels must be strengthened or established. Technical assistance to women in agriculture, fisheries, small enterprises, and trade must also be provided,” Loren stressed.