Ten years have now passed, but Raghu Raja, a 27-year-old fisherman from the coastal village of Nemmeli in southern India’s Kanchipuram district, still clearly remembers the day he escaped the tsunami.
Among all the impacts of climate change, from rising sea levels to landslides and flooding, there is one that does not get the attention it deserves: an exacerbation of inequalities, particularly for women.
Despite international acknowledgement that women are disproportionately affected by climate change, the Lima climate negotiations have been slow to deliver progress on recognising their importance, while threats of pushback loom on the horizon.
As leaders from around the world gather in Lima, Peru this week to discuss global cooperation in addressing climate change, a woman in Guatemala will struggle to feed her family from a farm plot that produces less each season.
The clamor of indigenous peoples for recognition of their ancestral lands resounded among the delegates of 195 countries at the climate summit taking place in the Peruvian capital. “I want my land…that’s where I live and eat, and it’s where my saintly grandparents lie,” Diana Ríos shouted with rage.
For more than 10 years, Mildred Crawford has been “a voice in the wilderness” crying out on behalf of rural women in agriculture.
The northeastern Indian state of Assam is no stranger to devastating floods. Located just south of the eastern Himalayas, the lush, 30,000-square-km region comprises the Brahmaputra and Barak river valleys, and is accustomed to annual bouts of rain that swell the mighty rivers and spill over into villages and towns, inundating agricultural lands and washing homes, possessions and livestock away.
Living in a makeshift tarpaulin shelter, which barely protects her family from the torrential rainfall or scorching heat of this remote village in southern Nepal, 36-year-old Kamala Pari is under immense stress, worrying about her financial security and children’s safety.
Aleta Baun, an Indonesian environmental activist known in her community as Mama Aleta, has a penchant for wearing a colourful scarf on her head, but not for cosmetic reasons.
The rural communities of San Miguel and Santo Tomás Ajusco, to the south of Mexico City, are preserving 3,000 of their 7,619 hectares of forest in exchange for payment for environmental services. But the inequality in the communities is far from ecological.
Olga Vargas, a breast cancer survivor, is back in the countryside, working in a forestry programme in the north of Costa Rica aimed at empowering women while at the same time mitigating the effects of climate change.
At the mouth of the Aguán river on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, a Garífuna community living in a natural paradise that was devastated 15 years ago by Hurricane Mitch has set an example of adaptation to climate change.
Chintapakka Jambulamma, 34, looks admiringly at a solar dryer. It’s the prized possession of the Advitalli Tribal Women’s Co-operative Society- a collective of women entrepreneurs that she leads.
The rise in natural disasters in the Caribbean due to climate change has led to increased suffering for both men and women, much of it as a consequence of socially constructed roles based on gender, experts say.
Women’s political representation in the Pacific Islands region is globally the lowest at 3.65 percent, compared to the world average of 18 percent. Leadership is still widely perceived as ‘men’s business’ and voting is heavily influenced by nepotism and money politics. However, Rhoda Sikilabu, minister for community affairs in Isabel Province in the Solomon Islands is demonstrating that women leaders can drive development progress and win voter support.