Women are far more likely than men to die in natural disasters, so they can also be expected to suffer more from the effects of climate change. A report calling for a greater role for women in tackling climate change will be debated and voted on by MEPs on 20 April. The text by French Green MEP Nicole Kiil-Nielsen argues that by including gender issues the fight against climate change could be made stronger, fairer and more effective. We asked Ms Kiil-Nielsen to tell us more about it.
Why is it important to link climate change to gender issues?
During every crisis and every revolution we always hear we should first solve the problem and that women's rights will come later. But this reasoning is dated and ineffective. Today, on the other hand, the challenge of climate change and that of justice and equality for women are intrinsically linked. We can't propose efficient and innovative solutions if we don't widen our field of vision. For example, we know today that women have up to 14 times more chance of dying during or following a natural disaster.
What concrete measures would you propose?
The report proposes concrete measures aimed at including more women in Europe's climate diplomacy such as a quota for a minimum of 40% women in delegations. We should also encourage a greater opening of technical, political and financial bodies. In addition we ask that during the evaluation phase or launch of projects data is systematically collected and broken down by sex. This would make it possible to better understand the gender aspect of climate change and adapt our policies to respond to it.
It is not about making climate policies and gender equality policies compete, but to jointly make progress on these topics, because it makes sense.
How will it make the fight against climate change stronger, fairer and more effective?
I was especially struck by one example. In Tanzania, in the Kilombero district, an NGO launched a programme to dig a well in a village. After barely two years, the well dried up. Later it became clear that only men in the village had been consulted, although women always collected the water and knew where you should dig. After they realised their mistake and a well was dug in the location indicated by the women, the well never dried up again.
If the fight against climate change takes into account the gender aspect, we can tackle discrimination and at the same time come up with more efficient solutions for the environment. It's a win-win situation.