On the occasion of Earth’s Day and under the slogan of ‘Confronting Climate Change’, the Environmental Citizenship Program (Henceforth; ECP) of Bahrain Women Association (BWA) held a discussion group for youth on the topic of ‘ Gender and Climate Change’ on Wednesday, the 17th April 2013.
The Director of ECP, Mrs. Fatima Frutan, explained briefly the societal misconceptions pertaining to “Gender” and the impact it has on strategic decisions on both the national & regional level. In particular, the misapprehension relating to Climate Change. She also pointed out the importance of youth involvement in issues related to Gender and Climate Change.
Ms Roya Tariq and Mrs Zainab Humaidan, the facilitators of the Discussion Group, pointed that the world is facing major political, social, economical and environmental threats today,. One can witness that natural disasters resulting from climate change and global warming have increased significantly, however the qualitative response and well planning to confront those disasters and treat the impacts is not given much attention despite the dangers and the huge destruction they leave behind. This appears crystal clear in countries that suffer from insufficiency in natural resources, high average temperature, scarcity in water in some areas and high sea level in other areas.
Moreover, climate change is considered a threat to the efforts being made to eradicate poverty and enhance economic development, hence it hampers achieving sustainable development.
Women in the Arab region as well as many countries in the world are usually responsible for managing the natural resources, especially in the rural areas. On the other hand, women lack the resources and opportunities to improve and diversify its livelihood. The participants were somehow surprised to learn the prevailing phenomenon of feminizing poverty and the dominance of some wrong societal traditions that resulted in excluding women from participating in defying those dangers and threats or even contributing to the negotiations of mitigating climate change’s impacts. Neglecting the participation of women, as one of the main stakeholders, deprives the community from the power and capabilities women have, consequently will negatively affect the sustainable development. The facilitators concluded their introduction by emphasizing on the crucial role those women could play in planning and forming environmental policies and strategies.
Participants were then distributed to two groups. Each group discussed one of the two topics and came up with a list of recommendations as follows:
- All groups are affected by the damages resulted from climate change without exception, however vulnerable and marginalized groups are the most harmed by that as they are given the necessary care, and failure to provide their needs in a way that suits their nature. Those groups are women, children, handicapped and minorities.
Poor representation of women in decision-making positions, especially the decision-making process regarding to climate change. Despite that they have the capability of doing a significant role in mitigating those damages and contributing in forming comprehensive strategies.
It is worth mentioning that the Environmental Citizenship Program has always been concerned with spreading environmental awareness amongst youth. Our strategy has always been to leverage youths’ knowledge and energy as well as capitalizing on their capabilities and skills in achieving sustainable development goals.
Finally, the facilitators encouraged the youth participants to learn more about Gender & Climate Change and to take the time to think how they can contribute in becoming effective players in leading the change amongst their peers and families by simply raising awareness regarding Environmental issues faced today as well as initiate constructive educational campaigns in their respective schools and universities.