25 February 2020, The Tablet

Women 'most affected' by climate change

Women 'most affected' by climate change

The swollen Balonne river gushes under the Jack Taylor weir in St George, south-western Queensland, Tuesday, February 25.

The Irish Catholic aid agency Trócaire launched its Lenten campaign this week in Dublin with a new report which shows that women are disproportionately impacted by climate change and corporate human rights violations throughout the world.

The report, “Women Taking the Lead: Defending Human Rights and the Environment”, details the experiences of a number of women who are engaged in defending their communities against the effects of climate change and corporate greed.

It highlights how attacks on female human rights defenders are increasing. Last year 137 women defenders globally were attacked for opposing big business and defending their communities. Almost half of all of these attacks were against indigenous women and affected rural communities.

The report’s launch was attended by Bertita Zúñiga Cáceres, leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras. The organisation is supported by Trócaire.

Bertita’s mother, Berta Cáceres, was an internationally renowned activist and winner of the environmental Goldman Prize. She was shot dead in 2016 after a long battle to stop construction of an internationally financed hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque river in Honduras, which the indigenous Lenca people consider sacred. She is one of the report’s case studies.

Bertita Zúñiga Cáceres spoke at the launch about her own experience of violence inflicted on female human rights defenders and the indigenous community’s long struggle to defend their land from corporate abuse.

The report reveals that disasters resulting from climate change kill 14 times more females than males.

According to the research, natural disasters increase young girls’ chances of being trafficked. Young girls are 20-30 per cent more at risk of human trafficking following environmental disasters.

Women are also more likely to experience violence during crisis situations such as natural disasters or forced displacement. More than 70 per cent of women in crisis situations have experienced direct violence.

Worldwide less than 13 per cent of agricultural land is owned by women, making them more vulnerable to eviction.


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