Women: the first victims of climate change
In some countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, food production falls mainly to women. Women are therefore the first to feel the devastating effects of climate change. Repeated droughts and floods make chores traditionally performed by women (such as growing food, collecting water, and gather firewood) increasingly difficult. As a result, the food security of families that depend on these women is threatened.
Furthermore, as natural resources grow scarcer due to extreme climate episodes and deforestation, women are forced to travel further and further to find what they need. This negatively affects not just their health and physical safety, but also the education of their daughters who must also help support their families. In Senegal, for example, women spend an average of 17.5 hours per week collecting water. This food insecurity therefore extends over several generations of women.
In addition to losing their means of subsistence, women often face legal issues in the event of natural disasters and are unable to exercise their rights because they rarely own the land they cultivate.
Of the people around the world living on less than 1 dollar a day, 70% are women
Around the world, 80% of people displaced by climate change are women.
Women providing solutions
While women are disproportionately affected by climate change, they play a crucial role in efforts to adapt to it and attenuate its effects. They are responsible for managing natural resources in many areas around the world and are the first to be aware of the degradation of their environments. Women are therefore better able to understand the urgency and suggest practical, long-term solutions to adapt to changing environmental conditions.
For the time being, however, the great potential of women remains untapped. Women face many obstacles that prevent them from fully assuming their role in the fight against climate change and the transition to a green, sustainable economy, from restricted property rights to a lack of access to funding, training, and technology, not to mention their under-representation in decision-making bodies.
In order to help women become real actors of change, BNP Paribas and other large companies signed the Commitment and Contribution of Women Fighting Climate Change Charter in Kyoto, Japan on 26th June 2019.
It aims to give women more power by committing to promoting 5 objectives: Reaching gender parity in decision-making bodies focused on the climate by 2030, raising the awareness of all generations regarding women and the climate and giving girls access to education and green jobs, allowing women to be fully involved in the fight against climate change, integrating data broken down by gender to open the way for new climate efforts, funding and nurturing social, economic, and technological solutions for the climate that account for gender issues.
Unlocking women’s potential with concrete actionsBNP Paribas is undertaking various actions to reaffirm the role of women in the fight against climate change. Here are a few examples:
- The Group supports the AgriFeD programme from UN Women in Africa that supports more environmentally friendly agriculture, empowerment, and climate resilience among 30,000 women farmers. This support is part of the Group’s commitment to the HeForShe movement dedicated to promoting gender parity in all sectors of the economy.
- The Group has also used microfinance as a tool for 30 years to help increase resilience among vulnerable rural populations around the world. We follow in the footsteps of partnerships with microfinance institutions in the field of green microfinance, like the Fundación de la Mujer in Colombia and Caurie in Senegal whose beneficiaries are respectively 60% and 95% women.
- In Africa, the One Planet Fellowship programme co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and BNP Paribas has allowed hundreds of researchers (both men and women) to receive cutting-edge training to help them design appropriate strategies for adapting to climate change (e.g., choosing hardier crops, optimising resource management, etc.). Researchers can contribute to the global effort to produce information on climate change to ultimately strengthen Africa’s hand in international climate negotiations. At least 50% of the scientists involved in this programme are women.
- The Group also supports women’s entrepreneurship by funding green start-ups led by women such as Ombrea: The intelligent shading system installed above the field protects the plants and guarantees their development, despite the effects of climate change.
Crédit photo header ©annie-spratt