Beware climate change-gender nexus

COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai

An environmental activist wearing a costume displays a placard in a hallway during the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on Sunday, December 3. 

Photo credit: Courtesy | AFP

As the world converges on Dubai for the annual UN climate conference, COP28, dubbed the biggest and most inclusive so far, there is much hope and anticipation for multisectoral sustainable solutions to the impacts of climate change, specifically, among the vulnerable communities who are the most affected.

The forum focuses on fast-tracking energy transition—including reducing carbon emissions by 2030; transforming climate financing by setting up the appropriate frameworks; and putting nature, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action.

It is no coincidence that this global forum coincides with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. During the November 25 to December 10 events, stakeholders will engage in high-level bilateral agreements, campaigns towards awareness creation, calling duty bearers to action to address sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) by developing, enacting and implementing policies to address this quagmire and calling on everyone to be vigilant and not be bystanders in tackling the vice.

The impacts of climate change have fuelled SGBV. Frequent floods, extreme drought and rising temperatures and sea level being experienced worldwide, more so in the Global South, (in)directly contribute to the increase in the number of SGBV cases.

Sadly, women and young girls are the most affected due to gender norms crying to be transformed. They walk many kilometres looking for clean water, firewood and food for the household, which often puts them at risk of violation in exchange of the basic needs. That also affects their quality of life and health.

With these aggravating poverty and limiting financial independence, vulnerable communities become more susceptible to SGBV. As we take stock of COP 28, let us affirm climate action and justice by ensuring that climate financing is available to these communities. Amid the discourse on the nexus between climate change, gender and even sexual and reproductive health and rights gains traction, it requires a multisectoral solution.

- Ms Nyanjom is policy and advocacy officer at Centre for the Study of Adolescence. [email protected].