Earth Today | ‘Gender focus critical to climate resilience’ – Samuda
A REMINDER HAS come of the importance of using a gender lens to inform planning for climate change adaptation in order to build resilience.
“Climate change has a greater impact on those sections of the population that are more reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods, and/or who have the least capacity to respond to natural hazards,” said Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda, speaking Tuesday at the Peer Learning Summit.
“Our women in Jamaica are over-represented in the agriculture industry, particularly in small farming with its heavy reliance on natural resources and heavy emphasis on self-employment. They are also disproportionately represented in the informal economy, with underpaid jobs with little security and no benefits such as healthcare or union representation,” he added.
“The informal and agricultural sectors are usually the most impacted by severe weather events and climactic events. Thus women become over-represented among the unemployed following a disaster, sharing the greater share of the micro-economic impacts,” the minister said further.
The summit was co-hosted by the Government of Jamaica and the National Adaptation Plan Global Network under the theme, ‘Gender-Responsive National Adaptation’ at the Iberostar in Montego Bay. The event was attended by 11 delegations from the Caribbean and Africa and provided a forum for the sharing of experiences on how to promote gender equality through efforts to plan for adapting and coping with climate change impacts.
Jamaica, Samuda said, has been “actively working to bring gender considerations into development and climate policy for many years” – and with good results.
This is evidenced, in part, by the fact that Jamaica’s environmental and climate change portfolios are in large part run by well renowned senior female civil servants, including Permanent Secretary Audrey Sewell; Director General Dr Sharon Morrison; Chief Technical Director Gillian Guthrie; and Climate Change Division Director Una May Gordon.
Samuda also noted the recently launched Gender and Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan by the Climate Change Division, which charts the way forward in advancing gender equality and climate action; and that Jamaica had renewed its collaboration with the NAP Global Network through the hosting of the Peer Summit.
According to the minister, a plan that recognises women’s abilities and includes them in disaster relief efforts will help to change gendered beliefs about women.
“Jamaica’s 2011 National Policy for Gender Equality acknowledges the need to minimise the differential effects of climate change and natural disasters on gender by actively involving women in various levels of environmental decision making, as well as integrating gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programmes,” he said.
“For us, this isn’t just a document; for us, this is the reality. The foremost senior civil servants in Jamaica related to environmental management and the issue of climate change are indeed women, and this something that we are particularly proud of,” Samuda added.