Islamabad:Given recurrent natural catastrophes such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, and cyclones, Pakistan has been ranked as one of the top ten countries most affected by climate change in the past 20 years.
From 2000 to 2019, Pakistan scored 29.1 on the Climate Risk Index on average, had 502.45 fatalities per year, suffered a $3.77 billion economic loss, and witnessed 173 disastrous events, said a news release.
Although the worsening climate crisis threatens and affects all humanity, climate change impacts were not gender neutral. The fallout of climate stress on vulnerable communities is clearly visible, especially on women and young girls.
They have access to fewer resources and agency during periods of climate stress, as well as the heaviest burdens to bear. Around 70 per cent of the world’s poor are women, and the pandemic has exacerbated the gender gap in extreme poverty.
To unravel the challenges faced by women and solicit potential feedback to reduce the vulnerabilities of climate-stressed women, UNDP Pakistan in collaboration with the National Commission on the Status on Women, and the Planning Commission of Pakistan, has been holding consultations all over Pakistan with gender and climate change experts.
The findings of these consultations, and the feedback received from relevant stakeholders, will culminate in an NCSW and UNDP Pakistan report entitled ‘Women and Climate Change in Pakistan: Impact, Challenges and Solutions.’
UNDP Pakistan, with the support of its Pakistan Administered Kashmir SDGs Support Unit, and in collaboration with NCSW, held the last consultation in Muzaffarabad, on the theme of ‘Women and Climate Change: Impact, Challenges, and Solutions.’
It brought together a diverse group of experts on gender and climate change and provided them with an opportunity to discuss the repercussions of climate change on women, and to explore potential solutions to reduce vulnerabilities of climate-stressed women and other marginalised populations in the region.
Previously, similar consultations were also held in Gilgit-Baltistan, Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Speaking on the occasion Chairperson, National Commission on the Status of Women, Nilofar Bakhtiar said Azad Jammu and Kashmir was disaster prone region and women were the most effected during any disaster.
Climate change also showed impacts on the lives of women in the region. Women should be the part of policy making, she suggested. Climate change has exacerbated socio-economic fault lines in every society and placed a heavier burden on communities struggling to survive with complex inequalities.
“We at UNDP strongly believe that it is critical to ensure gender-sensitive investments in programmes for adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and capacity building,” said Dr. Sabeeh Zaidi, Head of the Management Support Unit, UNDP Pakistan.
The adverse impacts of climate change had already started affecting the permanent ice cover in areas of Pakistan Administered Kashmir. The temporal analysis conducted between 2000 to 2017 had revealed that the permanent ice cover had been reduced from 15000 hectors to 11000 hectors. The glacial retreat is accompanied by the creation of new lakes, which were 50 in 2000 and 62 in 2017. This phenomenon enhanced the prospects of Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF), which, besides causing adverse impacts on river health, embodies serious consequences for the human life and property.
This is expected to lead to more frequent and larger floods, landslides, and avalanches due to extreme rains. Consequently, this forces migration or displacement, increasing the plight of already resource-deprived, disadvantaged populations such as women.
Dr. Shabnum Sarfaraz, Member, Social Sector and Devolution at the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, explored the need for gender-informed policy in greater detail at the consultation through virtual participation.
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