IWGIA & AIPP Joint Submission to the Commission on the Status of Women 66th Session
There are numerous challenges for Indigenous Women in relation to climate change. Indigenous Women are more severely affected by the challenges to produce or collect sufficient food, or challenges of water scarcity because of climate change (flooding, drought, unpredictable weather, decrease in food varieties etc.). In accordance with culturally defined gender roles, Indigenous Women are often the ones responsible for collecting firewood, fetching water, tending the fields and feeding the family.
When women must spend more time and walk longer distances to produce or collect food and water, their vulnerability to violence also increases. There are numerous examples of this, for instance in Nepal and Thailand, where Indigenous Women living in buffer zones of national parks face brutal human rights violations when entering the park to collect food, herbs, medicinal plants, or water. Or in Kenya, where the Indigenous Women lost their traditional occupation as pastoralists due to the construction of a windmill farm and had to sustain their families through prostitution. Many traditional occupations of Indigenous women are under threat because of climate change putting the economic independence of Indigenous Women at serious risk. For example, a woman from Taymyr, Russia had to quickly sell all the deerskin she had, because she had no place to keep them in cool, when the spring came early.
Indigenous Women are also seriously affected due to displacement of their communities because to climate change. When their communities are forced to relocate either because of natural disasters or because their traditional livelihood is no longer feasible because of climate change, often the victims of the crisis do not have culturally appropriate support to find solutions to their immediate and long-term needs.
Climate change mitigation actions implemented by governments or the private sector (such as green energy projects or the establishment of national parks or protected areas) severely and negatively affect Indigenous Women if they are not involved in the design and implementation of such efforts. Examples include; Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Kenya, or hydro-power projects in Nepal, Philippines and many other places. Many countries in Asia (Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Vietnam) have failed to integrate the needs and knowledge of Indigenous Women through their participation and consultation in the state disaster reduction and climate change national action plans.
This written statement is respectfully submitted by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) to the Commission on the Status of Women in response to the priority theme, Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.
This submission outlines the main challenges and opportunities (in relation to the priority theme) facing Indigenous Women and Girls, who make up roughly 2.5% of the global population, and who are among those contributing the least to climate change but suffering the most from the effects of climate change.