Legarda: Invest in Women’s Leadership for Climate Solutions

February 29, 2016

In celebration of National Women’s Month this March, Senator Loren Legarda today encouraged women to lead and be actively involved in climate change adaptation and mitigation as she called on the government to empower women by addressing their vulnerabilities.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, said that while statistics show that women are more vulnerable to disaster and climate change impacts than men, this vulnerability can turn into strengths with gender-sensitive government programs that address the special needs of women.


“Gender mainstreaming is already an agreed principle.  We need not just remain faithful to this belief, we also need to take action. We should lift the social, cultural and institutional barriers that constrain women from effectively adapting to climate change effects in order to ensure their well-being and that of their families,” she explained.


The Senator cited the situation in the aftermath of Supertyphoon Yolanda, which revealed how vulnerable women are to disasters. More than 3.5 million women and girls were affected, while 250,000 of them were pregnant and 169,000 were breastfeeding. Their distinct nutritional needs, when unmet, make coping with disasters tougher for them. Also, their displacement from their homes put them at greater risk of sexual violence and of falling prey to human traffickers.


“Women are more vulnerable to disasters because they have special needs, like pregnant and lactating women, and they are the primary caregivers in times of disaster whether in the family or in the community. Our goal should also be to empower and allow them to become part of disaster and climate resilience efforts, thereby addressing the risks they face,” Legarda said.


“How do we make uneducated girls part of our disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies while we strive to give them access to education? How do we make climate leaders out of women even as we struggle to provide access to fair employment to them in some sectors of our society?  How can our women lead in DRR efforts when socio-cultural norms restrict their movements?  Unless we find solutions to these fundamental issues, our call for women leadership in climate resilience efforts will be futile,” said Legarda.


“We must invest in women, make them part of decision-making, as their development role is crucial in adapting to climate change and building community resilience to disasters. From the quiet but steady work they perform at their communities, women should move into the frontlines of delivering decisive action towards a sustainable and resilient planet. Addressing gender equality and women empowerment issues, as well as allowing greater involvement of women in crafting policies and planning programs on climate and disaster resilience will make a big difference,” Legarda concluded.