“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 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.