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  • Women and children 14 times more likely than men to die during natural disasters
  • Climate-induced displacement affects women the most severely
  • MEPs call for action to empower women to be agents of change

As women are hit harder than men by climate change, MEPs call for action to empower them and protect those most vulnerable, in a resolution adopted on Tuesday.

According to the UN, 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty worldwide are women. More frequently living in areas exposed to floods, rising sea levels and storms, these women are particularly vulnerable to climate change and experience its effects disproportionately, notably because of their social roles (providing water, food, caring for others, etc.), says an own-initiative report approved by plenary on Tuesday.

 

The report also points out that women are the most severely affected by climate-induced displacement and that, when displaced, the most vulnerable women and children are much more exposed to sexual violence and harassment.

 

From victims to powerful agents of change

 

Adopted by 485 votes in favour, 117 against and 20 abstentions, the report calls on the Commission and member states to act and especially to empower women, so that they are not only victims, but also powerful agents of change who, when fully involved in the process, can propose and put in place efficient climate strategies and solutions.

 

They can build climate resilience, thanks to their diverse areas of experience and practical knowledge across sectors ranging from agriculture, forestry and fisheries to energy infrastructures and sustainable cities, the report adds.

 

In the report, MEPs, inter alia, urge:

 

  • Stakeholders to encourage women’s empowerment and awareness, by improving their knowledge of climate-related disasters and involving them in disaster anticipation, early warning systems and prevention;
  • The Commission to integrate climate change into all development programmes at all levels and call for rural and local women to be involved more in decision-making processes, planning and implementation;
  • The Commission and member states to support, strengthen and implement monitoring mechanisms in reception centres for the displaced and migrants, so as to stop all types of harassment of women and girls; and,
  • The Commission and member states to lead by example and adopt targets and timelines for achieving the goal of gender balance in delegations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

 

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Linnéa Engström (Greens/EFA, SE), rapporteur, said: ‘‘Women and girls are acutely vulnerable in the face of climate change. Not only are they likely to be living in the marginal areas that are the worst affected, they are especially vulnerable once displaced. The fact that the resolution was adopted by the Parliament today shows a consensus over the need to focus on gender equality and human rights for climate refugees.’’