Climate injustice an opportunity for more sustainable justice: Nasheed

“I see the injustice created by climate change as an opportunity,” said former President Mohamed Nasheed stated in his keynote address at the “Women Rising for Climate Justice – A Day of Action” event held in Male’ on Thursday night.

Women, poor women in particular, face greater hardships and challenges from climate change injustices, he noted, adding that Nasheed said that three women died for every man who died in the 2004 tsunami.

The event was organised by local NGO Voice of Women (VOW) with Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN). It was also in collaboration with ‘One Billion Rising for Justice‘ (a global campaign to end violence against women, calling for justice and gender equality).

Recalling his visits to temporary shelters for victims of the tsunami in Maldives, Nasheed said that hardships faced by women after such a disaster were also far greater. Commenting on the impact of climate change on health, he said the effects were also felt more strongly by women, as individuals and as caregivers.

Conflicts and wars that result from that scarcity of natural resources caused by climate change also have a greater impact on women, Nasheed said.

“We see that women stand up when they face hardships. When women stand up and take action, I believe things improve in a more sustainable manner,” he continued. “I have found their [women’s] work, courage, and willpower to be of an amazing level, especially because of how my life turned out to be in the past two or three years. I am sure you will work to find a solution for this issue. And I believe you can find those solutions. And I believe you can save this world.”

In addition to Nasheed, Minister of Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim also spoke at the event, pledging to raise his voice on behalf of women in climate change issues. He also said increasing women’s participation and protection of women’s rights in social and economic planning is very important to minimise the impacts of climate change.

A statements of encouragement and solidarity sent from female leaders involved in climate change justice was also delivered at the event.

Among those who sent the message were former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, the founder of WECAN Osprey Orielle Lake, and Director of Climate Wise Women Tracy Mann.

A song produced by VOW ‘Climate Justice, Vow with us’ was performed live at the event, before all attendees signed the WECAN declaration ‘Women of the World Call for Urgent Action on Climate Change & Sustainability Solutions’.

The declaration

The declaration was ratified at the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit held in New York in September 2012. Described as “the clarion call to the women and men of the world” – the declaration targets the global women’s movement for climate action and sustainable solutions “to put the world on notice that women will take action at all levels”.

Calling for the fulfilment of existing international agreements on women’s equality and climate change, the declaration makes a number of demands from governments and communities.

Notable demands of the declaration include the call for a binding climate treaty to reduce carbon emissions under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), demands to bring atmospheric CO2 concentrations to below 350ppm, to protect 20 percent of the world’s oceans by 2020, and 40 percent by 2040 in marine preserves and sanctuaries.

In terms of energy, it demands the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies and the introduction of carbon taxes, increasing investment in conservation, energy efficiency, and safe energy, divesting from “dangerous and dirty” fossil fuel developments (such as fracking and deep-water oil drilling) while also rejecting greenhouse gas emissions reductions through high-risk technologies (such as nuclear energy, and geo-engineering).

In climate funding, the declaration demands prioritising and increasing of adaptation funding to build community resilience for ‘”those most affected by climate change” and making them more accessible for community-based groups, including women’s groups.

The declaration also calls for “common but differentiated responsibilities” between the global north and global south in resolving the climate crisis and implementing new economic indicators and structures that encourage sustainability and abandon models for limitless economic growth.


Disappointment over low government turnout at One Billion Rising event

Organisers at One Billion Rising in the Maldives have expressed disappointment over the number government officials who failed to attend the event, aimed at ending violence towards women.

The international campaign was launched in the Maldives on Thursday (February 14) by NGO Hope for Women at Jumhooree Maidhaan in Male’.

The One Billion Rising campaign began after research revealed that one in three women around the world will be raped or beaten in their lifetime.

The gathering in Male’ featured live music and dance performances, and saw many young men and women in the crowds dancing together.

Despite the event’s popularity with youth in Male’, Chair of Hope for Women, Aneesa Ahmed, said the poor turnout from government officials “showed their lack of commitment” in tackling the issue of violence against women.

“We have been working alongside the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights, and they have invited all government agencies and ministries, but I have hardly seen any of them here,” she said.

“I really don’t know what to say – the commitment is just not there. In the last few years nothing has really been done to help this particular cause,” Aneesa said.

Speaking to Minivan News, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad said that the government was a broad entity consisting of many ministries and that he had not been aware of any specific invite to members of the government.

“As I understand, Acting Minister of Gender, Family and Human Rights] Dr Mariyam Shakeela attended. Some other ladies from the the government were there,” he said.

Masood said a member of staff from the President’s Office had also attended the event, as he had “skipped a meeting he was supposed to attend”.

Last month a study by Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) found that support for women’s equality in the country had experienced a “significant drop”.

The report found that fewer respondents – compared to the 2005 survey – believed that women should have equal rights to men.

Aneesa said that the event was aimed towards the younger generation in the Maldives as they do not possess the “prejudices” elderly people have in regard to equality.

“I am particularly happy because there were so many young people here, it is very encouraging. These people will stand up against violence, they are going to be a very strong force.

“In the past few years we have this increasing influence of conservatism in the country and because of this the older generation are more cautious about coming to such an event. Things like dancing, as you see today, we are not supposed to do this,” Aneesa added.

Speaking at the event, Heat Health and Fitness Managing Director Aishath Afra Mohamed spoke about her concerns regarding violence against women in the Maldives.

“Some men are trying to keep their wives in the house, they don’t want women to work and socialise with their friends. They are very possessive.

“The rate of violence is going up and women are keeping quiet about it here. But this event is good to see, the more we make light of the matter, the better it will be,” Afra added.