CSW 56: Gender and Climate Change

by Cristina Tirado, Director of PHI’s Center for Public Health and Climate Change

Friday, March 9, was the last day of the fifty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which has brought together, in New York, leaders from all over the world working to promote gender equality. The CSW is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide. The CSWmake recommendations and reports on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields

This year the priority theme at the CSW has been the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges. The review theme was financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women and the emerging issue has been how to engage young women and men, girls and boys, to advance gender equality

The Global Gender Climate Alliance (GGCA) and the NGO- CSW co-organized a Learning Circle: Gender and Climate Change with the contribution of the Public Health Institute among other groups (link to the flyer). Special Guest respondents include Mrs. Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice and Hon. Lulu Xingwana, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, South Africa

The Center of Public Health and Climate Change at PHI was invited to facilitate a learning circle on climate change, health food and nutrition security. The participants of the learning circle indentified key challenges that women encounter in relation to health and food and nutrition security at local, regional and national level. Specific challenges identified for rural women in Africa were the lack of access to health care services, including maternal health care, and the lack of awareness and information on health issues (including the transmission of HIV/AIDS) which is connected to the high rate of illiteracy in the rural context.  Specific health issues in Africa were related to lack of water and water contamination and in SE Asia to exposure to pesticides from agricultural activities.

The group shared success stories and solutions that were achieved by women in relation to health and food and nutrition security and in particular, in the rural context. We discussed case studies including initiatives to collect water and irrigation projects in Nigeria, the establishment of mobile maternal health clinics in Uganda, and the promotion of green-houses to assure food and nutrition security of indigenous communities in Guatemala.

Many of the groups represented in this learning circle will be at RIO+20 and are planning to raise the profile of women to address the challenges of climate change to health and food and nutrition security.

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