Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Earth Today | Male support for women in climate change response

Published:Thursday | March 1, 2018 | 12:00 AM
UnaMay Gordon

JAMAICAN MEN involved in climate change response have given their own stamp of approval to the move to empower women for increased participation in readying the island for climate threats, from research to policy planning and community action.

"Women are equally as capable as men; I don't think there should be any prejudice. Women are as capable as men in producing good science, and to the extent that the society has organised men to be the most dominant voice, then yes, we should work to ensure that the women who are producing just as good science, that their voice is equally represented," said Professor Michael Taylor, head of the Physics Department at the University of the West Indies, and co-lead for the Climate Studies Group, Mona (CSGM).

"Science benefits from diversity and diversity in all forms, which includes gender," he added.

Currently in the CGSM, there are more women at the postgraduate level than men, and, along with Taylor, is headed by a woman - Dr Tennecia Stephenson.

According to the physicist, Stephenson embodies the best of what is possible with women in climate science.

Among other things, he noted, the female scientist is the Latin America and Caribbean representative on the Coordinating Regional Downscaling Experiment, and is a member of a special committee of the World Meteorological Organisation.

Climate researcher and environ-mental consultant Dr Orville Grey said women and men experience climate change, and disasters more generally, differently - a fact that must be accounted for in climate change response planning and practice.

"Females are disproportionately affected by climate change and disasters. It should be recognised that women, in general, play a significant role in disaster response, especially those that are climate related, and they are therefore instrumental in climate change adaptation activities. It is crucial that a keen understanding of the differences is articulated and understood to enable meaningful participation and leadership in decision-making," he told The Gleaner.


Gender equity critical


Further, Grey said that addressing issues of gender equality and equity "whether it be through policy programmes or on-the-ground implementation activities," is vital "to ensure a proactive approach that integrates gender into climate change response and one that fosters the achievement of sustainable development in a low-carbon environment".

Principal director for the Climate Change Division (CCD) UnaMay Gordon revealed in January that it had commissioned a review and gender analysis of the island's Climate Change Policy Framework and Action Plan, to realise gender equality in climate change planning and practice.

"We are finalising the paper which we commissioned last year with a view to bringing it in line with the decision of the COP 23 (the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Bonn, Germany, last year) on the Gender Action Plan," Gordon told The Gleaner at the time.

Coherence regarding gender-related mandates and activities is among the priority areas of the Gender Action Plan. Others include:

- Capacity building, knowledge sharing and communication to enhance the understanding and expertise of stakeholders on the integration of gender considerations into climate change planning and action;

- gender balance, participation and women's leadership;

- mender responsive implemen-tation and means of implementation; and

- monitoring and reporting.

Grey, who was recently the senior technical officer responsible for adaptation in the CCD, cautioned that the efforts to empower women in climate change response should not, however, leave men behind.

"The vulnerability of women to climate change is well documented. Women have an important role in supporting households and communities in adapting to climate change. However, it would be foolhardy to reduce the gender discussion on climate change to women versus men as this will likely not foster a comprehensive response policy or action," he noted.

"We need to identify the role that gender plays and from there, identify the vulnerabilities and strengths of each and craft an appropriate response," he added.