Climate shocks exacerbating humanitarian crisis, insecurity and gender inequality - Voices from the Sahel and Afghanistan

Date:
21 March 2022

This CSW66 side event will be held on March 21st at 9:00-10:30am EST

This side event seeks to highlight how climate shocks and environmental hazards exacerbate humanitarian crises, security risks and gender inequality globally. It seeks to discuss the ways in which climate crisis, conflict and gender inequality are conflated and mutually reinforcing to the detriment of the advancement of the SDGs and the gains made on gender equality and empowerment of women.

The event will showcase opportunities and priorities in responding to these challenges based on  experiences of crisis- and conflict-affected women in the Sahel and Afghanistan.

Women and girls in crisis situations are particularly exposed to risks, burdens and impacts generated by climate change. Crises-affected women confront increasingly complex humanitarian situations, impacted by the multiple layers of conflicts, climate shocks, chronic vulnerabilities, and endemic poverty, all of which further compound gender inequality. At the same time, as climate change impacts gender roles, power relations, livelihood and settlement patterns, new entry points are also emerging for engaging women in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

In the Sahel, the region is plagued by recurrent hydro-meteorological disasters including flooding and drought, which aggravate food insecurity, increase tensions, and fuel humanitarian crisis. The situation has further deteriorated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 24 million people in the Sahel are currently in need of life-saving assistance and protection including 4.5 million displaced individuals.

In Afghanistan, conflict, economic fallout, and gender inequality are further intensified by climate crisis, drought, and famine. At the current peak of winter, around half of the population (23 million people) are identified as acutely food insecure, with 8.7 million at risk of starvation, and the situation is expected to worsen. In the coming 12 months, a quarter of pregnant and breastfeeding women and almost half of children need life-saving nutrition support. In addition, Afghanistan’s drought, its worst in decades, is now entering its second year, exacerbated by climate change. The dry spell has hit 25 of the country’s 34 provinces, and this year’s wheat harvest is estimated to be down 20 percent from the year before. The drought started in late 2020 as a La Nina event, which changed weather patterns across the globe, and for Afghanistan caused lower rain and snowfall in early 2021 in Afghanistan.

In response to this vicious circle of crisis, climate shocks and gender inequality, protecting women’s rights and strengthening women’s resilience through targeted action and gender-responsive policies, plans and strategies remains central to contribute to advancing climate security, disaster risk reduction, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and prevention of violent extremism. UN Women is working in partnership with women’s organizations in over 50 countries to strengthen the resilience of women and girls affected by conflicts and climate crisis and to ensure their participation in addressing humanitarian crises.