Due to the prevailing social, economic and political disparities between the sexes, women are disproportionately affected by the negative results of global warming. An unjust access to (financial) resources, limited mobility, a lower level of education, inadequate access to information, exclusion from decision-making at all levels as well as administrative barriers, restrict women in their ability to cope with the challenges of global warming.
Women are disadvantaged particularly in rural areas of development countries. About two thirds of the female labor force – in some African countries even above 90% – works in the largely subsistence agricultural sector. Depending on the region, up to 80% of the total food production in developing countries is the responsibility of women and they are heavily dependent on natural resources as a livelihood for themselves and their families. As the climate warms women often face a partial or total loss of their crops and thus also their often only source of income. Global warming has therefore serious consequences for food security especially for women.
Strategies to solve the problem require the recognition that women are more strongly affected by climate change than men. Consequently empowerment and equality of women in economic, political and social terms is fundamental, so they can respond to the adverse effects of global warming on their natural resources. However, it is important to keep in mind that women are not only more vulnerable but they are also effective agents of change in terms of the changes needed to deal with the negative effects of global warming. Their expertise and knowledge and their position within families and communities can be very useful in developing local strategies.
In approaching Rio +20, the AWEPA Section in the Austrian Parliament urges the Federal Government to further strongly support gender equality and the empowerment of women through its development policies, measures and programs, to consider more inclusion of gender experts in the planning, development and implementation of climate-related policies and measures, and to place particular emphasis on the application and implementation of Policy Coherence for Development. A positive example can be found in a research project carried out in Mozambique on behalf of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC). The project empowers particularly female smallholder farmers to produce more efficiently and sustainably, and allows them access to advice and to markets, enabling them to adapt better to the effects of global warming.
The AWEPA Section in the Austrian Parliament supports the efforts and activities of AWEPA International. AWEPA International implemented together with the PAP programmes that promotes equality for women. Alongside this AWEPA International is pursuing in the SACU (Southern African Customs Union) region, a program to strengthen the role of parliaments in shaping a sustainable climate policy.