On March 22nd Sif Holst attended the 66th meeting of The UN Commission on The Status of Women – CSW66. These were her remarks during the meeting:
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
Bringing together the physical and social sciences with gender-responsive sustainable development practice and action is key for building women’s and girls’ resilience to climate change, environmental degradation and disasters and advancing gender equality. To forge resilient futures, we must break silos and strengthen women’s, girls’ and their organizations’ resilience as powerful agents of change. (80)
My name is Sif Holst, I am a woman with a disability. I am, among other things, vice-chair of Disabled People’s Organisations Denmark and a candidate to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Climate change and environmental disasters affect us all and as this expert panel underlines there is a need to consider the gender perspective. I agree, but it is vital that we also talk about women and girls with a disability. 15% of the world’s population have a disability, 80% live in low and middle-income countries and are highly climate vulnerable. Higher poverty, higher food insecurity, inadequate housing, barriers to access information, all contributes to persons and particularly women and girls with a disability being extra vulnerable to climate change.
But persons with a disability are also vulnerable when we are left behind as we develop our climate solutions. When we ban plastic straws but forget that some women with a disability are dependent on them to get nourishment, when we restrict car use but forget to ensure public transportation that is accessible for all.
It might seem that it is an unnecessary complication, that we also need to consider a group such as women and girls with a disability, when we bring physical and social sciences together for a gender-responsive sustainable development. But with the Sustainable Development Goals, we promised to leave no one behind. And it is my experience, that when we challenge for example our future architects, engineers, and designers to consider vulnerable groups in their design, they can design universally.
We can design a future, where we all will have a chance to live and to thrive.
The empowerment of all girls and women in the context of climate change is possible, but only if we strategically work to include and empower those who are most vulnerable.