“Women play a much stronger role than men in the management of
ecosystem services and food security.”
Women are often in the frontline in respect to the impacts of a changing climate. Globally the world is seeing increasingly frequent droughts and floods which are having economic but also profound social consequences. The women and people of Asia are currently at greatest risk with over 100 million people affected in this region annually.
Patterns of development and settlements put the poor and the vulnerable at increased risk with many forced to settle on the only land available at the time – land that all too often is prone to flooding and mud slides. This report underlines that women are disproportionately likely to lose their lives in such events.
During disasters, such as drought or floods, women are also more vulnerable to organised criminal traffickers as a result of communities being scattered, and protective patterns in families and society become disrupted: a point underlined by INTERPOL and non-governmental organisations in this report and a pattern of exploitation known from armed conflicts and other disasters.
More than 1.3 billion people live in the watersheds of Asia’s mountain ranges. With more than half of South Asia’s cereal production taking place downstream from the Hindu Kush- Himalayas, the impacts on food security will become ever more important with increasing climate change. Here, adaptation will become crucial.
Women represent a primary resource for adaptation through their experience, responsibilities, and strength. This report
provides ample information to show that women play a much stronger role than men in the management of ecosystem services and food security. Hence, sustainable adaptation must focus on gender and the role of women if it is to become successful.
Women’s voices, responsibilities and knowledge on the environment and the challenges they face will need to be a central part of the adaptive response to a rapidly changing climate. UNEP welcomes the collaboration and contributions of the countries and regional institutions such as ICIMOD in strengthening the research, understanding and outreach on the important role that women play in the climate change challenge and will increasingly play in this century.
Governments have a responsibility to make gender
considerations part of the response and UNEP hopes this report will play a part in providing a focus for relevant agencies operating across the spectrum of development and climate assistance to put women at the centre of their strategies.
Achim Steiner UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director