An equal world is a enabled world: how empowering women can combat climate change

Posted on Sunday March 08, 2020

Today, and every day, Water for Women celebrates women.

Gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive and in the face of increasing risk from climate change, gender equality is also crucial in building community resilience and combatting climate change.

International Women’s Day (#IWD2020) provides an opportunity to highlight the importance and the value of empowering women through water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects, which can help build resilient communities and deliver more sustainable and effective outcomes in WASH and beyond.

Women play a fundamental role in day-to-day community life, and yet all too often, are left out of the decision making around community WASH planning, even decisions about their own WASH needs.

 

Water plays a fundamental role in healthy communities and families, and water security is intrinsically linked to a changing climate. The increasing frequency of floods, severe storms and drought is playing havoc with waterways and crops and is affecting the food security and livelihoods of millions of people. 

 

“Women and marginalised people are the most vulnerable to these climate change impacts, and they are therefore in strong positions to contribute to sustainable solutions to these challenges,” says Dr Alison Baker, Water for Women Fund Manager. “We see a very clear link between empowering women and tackling climate change, and WASH interventions are an important entry point to gender equality.”

 

That is why Australia supports inclusive and sustainable water initiatives in Asian and Pacific communities. Through Water for Women, our partners are working to ensure that gender equality and social inclusion is central to our projects and that we ‘Do No Harm.’

The first step towards tackling the challenges of climate change is empowering women to safeguard the environment. Investing in girls and women creates a ripple effect that yields multiple benefits, not only for individual women, but also for families, communities, and countries.[1]

However, we also need to approach this solution with care lest we risk placing further burden upon already overburdened women.

That is why this year’s IWD slogan is so important “An Equal World is an Enabled World” – enabling women by supporting them and celebrating their achievements, as well as working towards changing widespread norms that are not enabling, and even harmful, for women. This is a key component of Water for Women’s Do No Harm work.

From International Women’s Day (8th March) through to World Water Day (22nd March), we will be sharing updates from our partners and projects across the Indo-Pacific region to showcase the value of empowering and learning from women in WASH. Happy #IWD!

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