Message of Senator Loren Legarda*
8th National Climate Change Consciousness Week
The Time Is Now: Women Leadership in Building Climate and Cultural Resilience
24 November 2016 | Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
(*Read by a Representative of Sen. Legarda)
Our nation has been gaining significant improvement in promoting gender equality. The Philippines has consistently been first in South and Southeast Asia and among the top 10 in the world in successfully closing the gender gap since 2006, when the World Economic Forum released its first Global Gender Gap Report.
But even with this seeming success in our fight for gender equality, we need to do more. We must build on these gains and continue to improve on our policies to address the challenges that women are facing in this era of globalization.
The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 41 percent of the world’s natural hazards over the past 10 years. These disasters have been unforgiving, claiming an average of 70,000 lives each year from 2004 to 2013. Another 200 million are affected each year, half of them women and girls.
Although disasters do not discriminate between the young and old, the rich and poor, they impact on individuals and families disproportionately—with the strong and capable surviving and coping better, while the weak and vulnerable losing lives and suffering more. And in settings where gender inequality pervades, the situation becomes even worse for women.
In 2013, the world witnessed the massive destruction that Supertyphoon Yolanda wrought in Central Philippines. It also revealed how vulnerable women are to disasters.
More than 3.5 million women and girls were affected, 250,000 of them pregnant and 169,000 breastfeeding.Women’s distinct nutritional needs make coping with disasters even tougher.
Yolanda also caused the loss of income sources for almost six million workers, 40% of whom are female workers.
Moreover, women’s displacement from their homes put them at greater risk of sexual violence and of falling prey to human traffickers.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has raised concerns that climate-related disasters leave women and girls more vulnerable to trafficking because in the aftermath of disasters, local security safety nets may be disrupted and economic challenges also make women potential targets for human trafficking.
These realities show that even in disaster impacts, there is no equality.
As women have a greater stake in disaster realities, it is time we take action by putting women at the forefront of climate action and disaster risk reduction efforts.
We must acknowledge the capacity of women to get involved, decide, take action, and lead. Our goal should be not only to reduce women’s vulnerability but also to empower and allow them to become part of climate action, thereby addressing the risks they face.
To harness the strength of women in reducing social vulnerability and increasing local capacity is to ensure the sustainability, inclusivity and resilience of local and national development pursuits.
Let us prove the world that women are agents of solutions and resilience, indispensable holders of valuable knowledge and skills, and able leaders of change from the grassroots level to the global stage.
 World Economic Forum http://reports.weforum.org/
 UN News center. Asia-Pacific report: World’s most disaster prone region experiences three-fold rise in deaths. December 2014.
 Wahlstrom, M. Project Syndicate: Women, Girls, and Disasters
 UNEP: Women at the Frontline of Climate Change – Gender Risks and Hopes