National Seminar on “Post COP22 discussions on Climate Change and SRHR and Moving Forward” Khan Foundation – 22 02 17
Speech of HE Sophie Aubert,
Ambassador of France to Bangladesh
1.Let me first thank the Khan Foundation to give me the opportunity to say a few words on this very important issue we are now addressing.
The goal of this seminar is to have a better understanding of the way sexual and reproductive health and rights, and more globally gender issues are tackled by the strategies and action plans developed under the umbrella of the struggle against the consequences of climate change.
Having few information regarding this issue, I requested my Ministry to give me documents about the French position, view and goals and I will share with you the main ideas of this French position, view and goals regarding the gender equality issue, which includes the SRHR, and its link with climate change.
2.We all know That the fight against climate change is a major issue which involves the entire planet. At a global level, our Governments must create the legal framework which will speed the expansion of the new technologies needed for changing our economic models, to go forwards and develop a low-carbon economic model. In many least developed or developing countries, such as Bangladesh, the fight against climate change also includes the fight against poverty and the protection of the environment, as well as other issues related to sustainable development.
3.All these issues are fully linked to the social and economic empowerment of women, and empowerment of women has important consequences on SRHR.
In other words, the fight against climate change’s impacts requires women’s participation as well as men’s. Unfortunately, women’s contributions are still not as valued as men’s. For example, in the developing countries, women are contributing to around 70% of the agriculture production, but they own only 15% of the land, according to World Food Program.
4.In fact, climate change shows a differentiated impact on women because of the social role the society imposes on women.
We can give a lot of example. For instance, we can observe that women are more affected by the intensity and the pace of the climatic disasters. According to UNFPA, 80% of the victims of the Cyclone Sidr were women.
Besides, when women are stuck in the private space with a role limited to taking care of the household and bearing children, they become very fragile and exposed to the consequences of climate change. Consequently, the girls are also among the first victims. Again, according to UNFPA, after the cyclone Sidr, the families of Barguna village decided to marry their girls as their living conditions were very precarious.
As a direct consequence, 50% of the girls left the school. In some remote villages, the rate of the girls having stopped going to school after Sidr accounted for 70 to 75% of the girls of these villages. It also appears that globally, when one woman out of seven is victim of gender violence in the world, according to a UNDP study dating back to 2009, this figure doubles in case of a postdisaster situation. Climate change also creates situation in which the pregnant women or mothers having very young children are more exposed to infection and diseases, because they don’t have access to health care institutions.
5.In spite of these observations, the positive thing is that women are also the first ones to be committed to developing adaptation strategies, as women bear the burden of their family and their community, but also the burden of the preservation of the biodiversity of their environment. Because it is a matter of survival. They have no choice but to find solutions locally, whereas the men very often develop other strategies.
Whereas the men are leaving their rural places for looking for a job in the cities, at a very micro level, women invent solutions, to adapt their life to the impact of climate change. You know this better than I, here in Bangladesh.
6.But the fact is that their initiatives are very little known, at the local, national and international levels. That’s the reason why their contributions to the fight against climate change are not that much considered by the public policies or by the adaptation projects developed here and there, including Bangladesh.
7.The other good thing is that we have now a consensus on the necessity to promote the link between women empowerment and fight against climate change. The problem is that, on the ground, we don’t have so many data to illustrate this link.
What we can observe is that this lack of information encourages to set up new tools of analysis.
We need to establish indicators to facilitate the harmonization of the information and the experiences. This will help addressing the issues of the access, the use and the control of natural resources. It will also help to share experiences and accelerate the spread of the adaptation solutions developed by women having proved their efficiency.
8.One more word to say that Bangladesh is doing very well in the field of demography.
With a fertility rate of 2,3 children by women, and considering the national commitment to lower this rate, Bangladesh should be able conciliate the demand to limit greenhouse gas emissions and the demand to grow its economy.
Because if the demographic growth is under control, there will be less need to produce for the domestic market. This will ease the pressure on the economy, with positive consequences for women. This is important because even though Bangladesh is a very small greenhouse gas emitter, this ambition to develop may potentially turn it into a greenhouse gas emitter.
9.Now, what about France ? In France, our position is very clear. France highly advocated in favor of the integration of gender equality in the Paris Agreement.
In Africa, we support a large range of actions in favor of women empowerment, with the aim to giving them political, economic and social means to act efficiently. We want to help them raise their voices to make sure that they will be taken into action by all the stakeholders, and we want to help them increase their participation in the global and local struggle against climate change.
France is fully mobilized in favor of the elaboration of a climate governance including human rights and gender equality. It’s a real matter of satisfaction to have been able to rally the international community towards this vision at the COP21.
10.As a conclusion, gender equality must be fully integrated in sustainable development policies and in climate adaptation programs : it is important to provide women with access to relevant technologies, but it is also important to consider the proven solutions women have themselves developed.
This seminar shows that this concern is clearly taking into consideration in Bangladesh. Protecting women from the consequences of climate change, advocating for gender equality and promoting SRHR is a way to save the men and more globally to save the humanity./.