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Women Should Be More Than Window Dressing

Jedi Ramalapa interviews Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 18 (IPS) - Women in developing countries are among the most vulnerable to the effects of crisis - be that climate change, food price hikes, the HIV/AIDS pandemic or the global recession. It is becoming more commonplace to hear women's testimony, but are women's voices heard when it comes to deciding on solutions?

IPS spoke to Ingrid Srinath, chief executive officer and secretary general of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, about women's exclusion from decision-making in global forums. Excerpts of the interview follow.

IPS: How do you think the issue of women and climate change has been dealt with so far?

INGRID SRINATH: I think with most of the global issues we're dealing with, whether it's climate or financial reform or any of those global issues, women continue to be under-represented.

In the climate debate, this is partly structural. I think civil society per se is largely marginal and within civil society at some level women continue to be marginalised.

Especially when the debate gets technical, there is an attempt with some of these global issues to make the focus of the debate the economic impact, and restrict it to (questions of) where is the money is going come from to fund mitigation and adaptation, rather than take a holistic view of the impact of any of these crises.

And as soon as that happens, there is a tendency for this to become more Northern, more male, more technical, and then marginalise women even further.

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Gender and Population: Climate Change Toolkit

Ensuring women contribute to and benefit from equitable climate solutions

A comprehensive resource kit from UNFPA and WEDO on gender, population and climate change. Learn how gender equality can reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts and how women are uniquely positioned to help curb the harmful consequences of a changing climate.

1. Overview: Women at the Forefront

(English, French)

2. Policy that Supports Gender Equality

(English, French)

3. Common Ground:  In Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal, Senegal and Trinidad and Tobago

(English, French)

4. Making NAPAs Work for Women

(English, French)

5. Financing that Makes a Difference

(English, French)

6. Educate and Advocate

(English, French)

Use UNFPA and WEDO’s New Resource Kit Climate Change Connections

LEARN find out how gender equality can reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts and how women are uniquely positioned to help curb the harmful consequences of a changing climate. Read More

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Call for Nominations: GWWI 2010 W. African Women & Water Prog.

THE GWWI 2010 West Africa Women and Water Program is a joint initiative of organizations A Single Drop, Crabgrass, Women’s Earth Alliance and is held in partnership with WaterAid Ghana.

The 2010 West Africa Program will include a week-long training to be held near Accra, Ghana in late February, 2010.  Attendees will create and commit to specific action plans for the year following the training. The GWWI team will provide seed funding and follow-up support for each team to implement a water project in their communities.

Those selected as GWWI participants will participate in 3 phases of work: Preparation, Training, and Follow-up/Implementation. 

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The Power to Empower: Innovation to Transform Women’s Lives

In a new, groundbreaking study, International Center for Research on Women examines how cutting-edge innovations can transform women’s lives. The ICRW report analyzes how a variety of innovations that used technology, changed social norms and strengthened economic vitality helped women.

Researchers identified seven core approaches – or levers – needed for any innovation to create meaningful change for women.
They include:

  • Creating strategic partnerships among governments, the private sector and civil society.
  • Including women in the design and implementation of innovative ideas.
  • Having committed support from governments as well as efforts at the grassroots level.

ICRW’s findings come at a critical moment.

Social, political and economic shifts globally are creating a perfect storm for innovations to benefit and potentially empower women. Take foot-pedaled water pumps. In sub-Saharan Africa, women in rural communities traditionally are responsible for collecting water to irrigate the crops that feed their families and that sell in markets. It can be a time- and labor-consuming effort.

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Dorcas Pirosis, "This is the worst year of my life"

DOL-DOL, 5 October 2009 (IRIN)

Traditionally, life for women in pastoralist communities in the central Kenya region of Laikipia revolves around taking care of their children, leaving the men to provide for the family. However, a prolonged drought in the area, which has resulted in significant livestock deaths, has seen these roles reversed, with more women venturing into small-scale business to feed their families. 

Government officials estimate that at least 600,000 livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) have died in the past three months in the area. Dorcas Piroris, 50, from Olkinyei in Laikipia North District, is selling tourist trinkets to supplement her family’s income. She spoke to IRIN in the town of Dol-Dol on 5 October:

"This is the worst year that I have witnessed in my life; everything seems to be going against tradition and we do not know when things will improve.

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