Climate Change Impacts on Palestinian Women

rural-women-palestineThe Palestinian Territories, especially the Gaza Strip, are highly vulnerable to climate change due to threats posed by increasing water stress, falling agricultural productivity, greater probability of flashfloods and saline intrusion into groundwater. Women in Palestine will have to bear greater impact of climate change because of their traditional, gender-prescribed roles as they are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihoods (e.g., food, fuel and water) and so on. Therefore, it is important to identify gender-sensitive strategies to enable Palestinian women to respond to environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change.

Environmental awareness is regarded as one of the best ways to alleviate the effects of such risks. Climate change is not only a scientific issue, but it is also viewed as a moral obligation in order to work to combat it from all women and society members. Environmental awareness programs have been promoted and provided by many institutions that focus mainly on the environmental issues here in Gaza. In that regard and as an example of such programs, Natuf Organization for Environment and Community Development and Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) – Palestine, held a series of workshops entitled “The role of rural women in addressing the climate change issue in the Palestinian territories” for the first time on May, 2015.

One of these workshops was conducted in cooperation with Zero Waste MENA and took place at Nidaa’ Palestine Society in Jabaliya with a generous funding from the Global Green Grants Fund GGF. The workshop aimed at empowering the rural women to adapt to climate change by increasing their awareness about the seriousness of environmental deterioration as well as exploring the best solutions in order to alleviate and adapt to climate change effects.

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Green initiatives such as AYCM and Zero Waste MENA, seek to establish generally a youth generation capable to address the climate change in order to reach a legally binding agreements to deal with the climate change within the international negotiations. Through this workshop, they had talked about the true meaning of the term of Climate Change, its causes and the consequences, which effect in the requirements of basic health such as clean air and drinking water, adequate food and safe shelter. Moreover, the relationship between the gender and the division of the traditional roles of men and women and linkages to the economic empowerment of women was also debated by the members of these initiatives.

Additionally, they discussed the mitigation and adaptation to climate change in general through the world as well as the policies and practices that designed to mitigate the effects of climate change. Not only that, but they had also showed one of the adaption solutions to climate change which is the use of organic fertilizer (compost) and the benefits of using it on agricultural and environmental levels as well. Such activity seems to be very important for those women in all their tasks as they are responsible for caring of the future generations and improving the livelihoods of their family, which could be threatened by global warming and climate change.

To conclude, climate change is a serious threat to sustainable development of Palestine with women being the most vulnerable group. It is the time to do more effective steps that could empower women in climate change adaptation as they play a vital role in ensuring the well-being of family as well as society.

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Baraa Hashem is an Environmental Engineer with core areas of expertise being sustainable waste management and climate change adaptation. She is a volunteer coordinator at “Zero Waste MENA”, which is a new initiative driven by environmentalists to promote sustainable practices to create zero waste communities in the MENA. She is also an active member at the Arab Youth Climate Movement “AYCM” - Palestine, which works to create a generation-wide movement across the MENA to solve the climate crisis. Baraa believes that each of us has a role to play in saving our earth and in turn protecting humanity.

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