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Climate Change and Violence Against Women Rights: A Call for an Ecofeminist Approach By Oladosu Adenike

UNHCR - Displaced and stateless women and girls at heightened risk ...
Climate Change and Violence Against Women Rights: A Call for an Ecofeminist Approach
                        By Oladosu Adenike
The world is witnessing environment instability leading to violence against women’s rights. Everyone is affected by climate change regardless of where you are, sex or age difference. In terms of proportionality, women are hardest hit. Climate change comes in different dimensions; drought, flooding, control of resource, conflict and natural disaster to women’s right issues. Thus, everyone has a share in every environmental instability but women will always have a place at the center of it: directly or indirectly. As environment instability affect national security so does it affect the security of women. In various conflict zones--problems arising from environmental crises put women at the center of the crises. Women and girls are sexually abused, forced into marriages against their will, sold as slave or kidnapped for ransom. Evidence can be drawn in the various hotspot regions in the world; Lake Chad, Syria, Yemen among others.
Women are most vulnerable to climate crises:
Women have a direct relationship with their environment-- it is inbuilt. They source for cooking materials either near or far as a home keeper. By rights, girls are expected to be educated as a form of empowerment to their family and the community at large in other to enable them contribute to their national development in building stronger institution. Climate change creates environment violence – as it is affecting women’s right. Climate crises leads women and girls to search for scare resource as such fall as victims of rape. At the same time when flooding takes over farmlands and the only source of livelihood to most families in Africa vanishes, girls are given out for marriage or be “recruited” as local hawkers: survival tactics. In the world of climate change, poverty is inevitable. This is a strong weapon against women’s rights. I watched a DW interview in which a 13 years old girl called Sande who lives in Malawi Nsanje province. She got married at the age of 13 against her will. According to Sande; “I was sent to be married because of a shortage of food in the house,” she said.

Why environment crisis is a mirror of sexual violence:
From Lake Chad to Syria down to Yemen, all these hotspots have been confirmed to be triggered by environmental instability. In Africa, climate change leads to scarcity of natural resource-- land and water which in returns affect the likelihoods of many that depends totally on it resulting into abject poverty; gradually growing into conflict. Hence leading to a fight over natural resource and finally into war. If there will be World War III, it will be climate change induced environmental instability. In Nigeria, climate change is already leading to the growth of hate speech thereby destroying the fragile national peace. As such Climate crises can breed a fragile democracy and a potent world war III. Most importantly, climate change does not create all these crises but create an enabling environment that make such occurrence strive.
The crises in Syria are linked to drought, making intra-migration to strive; that is, rural to urban areas exacting pressure to limited resources therefore leading to survival of the fittest and building a fertile land for insurrectionists. Same of its kind is fast taking place in West Africa. The shrinking Lake Chad Basin bounds Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. For sometimes I have been campaign for it recharge because it is affecting the peace and security of Africa and fueling terrorism. When there is loss of livelihoods the youth become vulnerable to join arm banditry in taking guns against their country while women fall victim of circumstances. Already, about 10.7 million people are in dare need of human assistance, while 2.7 million people livelihoods have been lost as 30 million people depend on the Lake Chad for various purposes – a such it has shrink by 90%. It was recognized as one of the largest Lake in the world but now referred to as one of the world humanitarian crises zones. The effect of climate change on the Lake is more pronounced in the Northern side of Nigeria that is face with desert encroachment and drought, as such it makes terrorism and arm banditry strive. Climate change is a silence pandemic showing signals for action needed, that is why we must fight it with whatever it takes.
I vividly remember 2014 when some school girls were kidnapped from their school: Chibok in Borno state of Nigeria. One of the closest state to the shrinking Lake Chad. Same incidence happened to Dapacchi school girls in Yobe State Nigeria. In every environmental crisis, women and girls are always the first victim. They have been forced to marry the terrorist, raped or sold as slaves. They have a lot of stories to tell. For some, it might be a point of no return; a great loss to the community and the entire nation! It is unfortunate that women have no hiding place in the world of conflict. All of these arising crises made me an ecofeminist.
The more women are deprived, abused, coerced into marriage or illegal engagement, the lower the country can develop. When women and girls are left behind, it creates a wider gender gap and the arising climate change crises make such gap difficult to be closed. Also by empowering women, you empower nations and when you protect them, you protect generations to come. The inclusiveness of women in environmental activities and rights lessen the effects of crises they pass through. Ask country or sector that economically flourishing, women are also the backbone of it. In this point of new normal post COVID-19, women must play a center role for a greener economy and sustainable future. The participation has to include all sector; no sector must leave women behind. It has been stated by the former UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon that; “global goals cannot be achieved with ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment.” So must one of the goals become a solution multiplier for other goals to be attained.
In the light of reflecting gender violence as a result of climate crises engages the inter-relatedness of environmental rights and women’s rights. Climate crises speak through the kidnapping of school girls and other women in the Lake Chad region or forced marriage for teenage girls especially in rural areas. In essence, to solve environmental rights is to solve women’s rights – every woman rights must begin by tackling climate crises.

Oladosu Adenike is an ecofeminist, freelance journalist that focuses on women in conflict zone, climate change and national security.

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