There is a need to address the impact of climate change on women and girls, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Monica Mutsvangwa said, acknowledging that climate change is affecting not just Zimbabwe but nearly 40% of the global population.
Mutsvangwa said this in a workshop centered on Gender and Disaster Risk Management, adding that consequences of climate change, such as extreme weather events, food insecurity, and the erosion of livelihoods, exacerbate existing inequalities, are placing a burden on women and girls.
Mutsvangwa highlighted the urgency to address these challenges and ensure the inclusion of gender perspectives in climate change adaptation and disaster risk management strategies.
“About 40% global population is now living with the harsh realities of climate change, high temperatures, drought, flooding, and many other extreme weather events and Zimbabwe has not been spared.
“Disasters, whether natural or man-made, have the potential to disrupt lives, destroy infrastructure, and cause immense suffering. However, it’s sad to state that the worsening impacts of such disasters lead to highly gendered impacts which largely affect women and girls,” Mutsvangwa said.
Mutsangwa said evidence shows that gender-based violence worsens during and after disasters, posing additional hardships for women.
“Violence against women and girls is also a factor during and post-disaster.
“Evidence shows that during the Cyclone Idai disaster here in Zimbabwe, more women than men reported losing their livelihoods and lives. During COVID-19, many women and girls faced GBV and teenage pregnancies,” she said
Mutsvangwa said it is crucial to recognize that climate-induced disasters place a heavy burden on women and children.
“Climate-induced disasters are now a reality and women and children carry the brunt of the impacts. Gender also intersects with other factors like disability, culture, religion, or socio-economic disadvantages, creating additional vulnerabilities and barriers to adaptation.
“These are likely to limit women in adopting effective strategies for preparing, adapting, and responding to disasters,” she said.
Mutsvangwa added that Zimbabwe acknowledges the urgency to review and implement the DRM Act, the Civil Protection Act, and a National DRR Plan that can be replicated at the local level.
“As a Ministry, we are committed to ensuring that our disaster risk management efforts are inclusive, equitable, and responsive to the needs of all people; integrating gender perspectives into our policies, plans, and practices, to address the specific vulnerabilities and capacities of women, girls, men, and boys,” she added.