Tag Archives: gender in climate change news

OnlineWomenBulletin, 20 June 2009

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“Many people in Morocco believe in change, in a better tomorrow and we, women have what it takes–talent and energy along with so many others. Women know more than men how to organize. They are more patient, stronger. They are also more reasonable and more attentive to the needs of children, women and men.”

Koutar Benhamou, a woman candidate in Morocco’s Municipal Elections

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Morocco: Election To Mark Another Step for Women

She’s young, at ease in Arabic, French or English, travels, love scuba diving, campaigns in a T-shirt and jeans and is bent on winning a seat in Morocco’s municipal elections on Friday. Kaoutar Benhamou, who turns 34 the same day, says she embodies modern Morocco. But she is also riding the kingdom’s latest wave to promote the role of women in this conservative Muslim state. For the first time, the government stipulated a 12 percent quota for women in Friday’s municipal polls–a major leap over the 0.58 percent or 127 women, now holding local council seats across the country, according to interior ministry figures. “I’ve never been involved in politics before,” says Benhamou, behind the wheel of her white four-wheel drive vehicle as she drums up support in the town of Bouknadel, 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the capital, Rabat. She is running for the new, reformist Authencity and Modernity Party or PAM, an alliance of five smaller groups facing a first electoral challenge it views as a litmus test for general elections three years away.

Bangladesh: To Increase Women’s Seats in Parliament to 100

Even as Indian political parties fail to reach a consensus over the Women’s Reservation Bill, Bangladesh is all set to increase by more than double the number of reserved seats for women in parliament. “The number of reserved seats for women in parliament will be increased to 100 and there will be direct election in these seats,” Finance Minister A M A Muhith told the House while presenting the budget for 2009-10 yesterday. The women MPs have so far been nominated by political parties on the basis of the proportion of their representation in parliament. At present, only 45 seats are reserved for women in the Bangladesh parliament. Muhith said in line with its election commitment, the Sheikh Hasina government has started working to ensure recruitment, promotion and placement of women in top positions of the administration, armed forces, autonomous bodies, educational institutions and judicial service.

India: Parliament Might Have 33% More Women

An Indian parliamentary standing committee on Law and Justice, headed by Rajya Sabha Parliamentarian Sudarshan Nachiappan (Congress),  has found acceptable a proposition to increase the number of seats for women in parliament by 33 percent. Since reserving seats for women in parliament, and for state legislatures, had always been a skewed issue in India, the parliamentary panel emerged with the solution while examining a reservation bill pending in the Rajya Sabha (upper house). People like Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and Janata Dal (JD) chief Lalu Prasad opposed the plan because there was no quota for women from the lower castes. However, the panel could not complete its report because of the Lok Sabha (lower house) elections, and would now work with members of the new lower house to resume work on the plan. Acceptable: The idea of increasing seats in teh Lok Sabha was also supported on the grounds that the strength of the House was fixed at 545 when India’s population was 300 million. However, the figure had now swelled to over 1 billion. Hence, an increase of 33 percent seats would result in better representation for the people.

Australia: Gillard Hopeful For Equality in Politics

It won’t be long before being a woman in politics is no big deal, says Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Australia’s highest-profile woman politician says it won’t be long before female politicians get no extra attention for their gender. “In the time I’ve been interested in politics going back of course, through the Fraser government, the Hawke government, Keating government, Howard government, now into Rudd government….a lot has changed for women in politics,” she told Sky News on Wednesday. “It’s much more usual for women to be in politics, we’re there in greater numbers. I think there is still some level of differential attention but it is changing very quickly.”

Lebanon: A Dwindling Show by Women in Politics

A seductive woman looks out from the billboards that line Beirut’s highways proclaiming, “Be Beautiful and Vote”, one political party’s appeal to women in this beauty-obsessed nation’s upcoming parliamentary elections. Women’s rights activists have fumed that the ad is demeaning. An opposing party has put up billboards with a more feminist message, “Be equal and vote,” though featuring, of course, an equally sexy model. A lingerie brand jumped in with its own mock election ad: a woman in silky underwear urging, “Vote for me”. Lebanon’s election campaign is full of women–except where it counts. Only a handful of women are among the more than 580 candidates vying for parliament’s 128 seats, and after Sunday’s voting, the number of women in parliament is likely to drop to four, down from the current six. Lebanon may look like one of the most liberal countries in teh deeply conservative Middle East but patriarchal attitudes still reign, women activists say. Women’s poor showing also reflects a wider problem: although Lebanon has the trappings of a modern democracy, its politics are dominated by former warlords and family dynasties. Often only each clan’s appointed heirs—usually men–stand a real chance of getting elected.

South Africa: Woman Shakes Up Racial Politics

Helen Zille has a sharp tongue and a short fuse, and she doesn’t dodge a fight. In apartheid times, she enraged South Africa’s white rulers and lately she has ruffled South Africa’s black political establishment. Having won plaudits as Mayor of Cape Town, she is now leader of the main opposition and her province’s premier–a striking example of democracy at work in a country that is ruled by blacks but leaves room for white  politicians like Zille. In the April provincial election, Zille won just over 51 percent of the vote to seize control of the wealthy Western Cape province from the African National Congress, breaking the ruling party’s monopoly on power. In voting for the national parliament, her Democratic Alliance party’s share rose to nearly 17 percent and helped deny the ANC its coveted two-thirds majority. Now the 58-year old workaholic says her goal is to run Western Cape so well that voters will be persuaded to ditch the ANC in other provinces. “The Western Cape will set an example for democracy in South Africa,” she told cheering supporters after the results were announced.

Canada: Women in Politics Take Center Stage

Progress is slow but sure for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Standing Committee for Increasing Women’s Participation in Politics, as the number of female representatives in local government’s increased by one percent in 2008, from 22 percent to 23 percent. The goal of the organization is to reach a plateau of 30 percent—consistent with a United Nations directive on women in democracy that determined that 30 per cent was the minimum number or “tipping point” required for women to have an effective voice. While politics may be gender-neutral, the issues are not. For example, female politicians tend to be more effective when it comes to representing women’s issues like childcare, playgrounds, facilities for nursing mothers, etc. At the committee’s presentation in Whistler on Saturday, standing committee chair Pam McConnell, listed the committee’s  main achievements the past year—including notably, the promotion of the group as a full standing committee within the FMC framework.




Gender Issues Gain Momentum at Climate Talks in Germany

Communication lines with Mother Earth have become complicated. Our practices of thousands of years are becoming difficult, implored an indigenous man from Bolivia, on behalf of his government’s delegation, as Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) met from 1-12 June in Bonn, Germany, to advance negotiation of a climate change framework for post 2012. References to the human dimension of climate change and the policies needed to address it are increasingly common at the ongoing UNFCC international climate change talks, expected to culminate in an agreement at the Conference of Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen, Denmark in December. Gender advocates, indigenous peoples, labor representatives and the youth have become increasingly visible and coordinated in their efforts to build awareness of the human face to climate change, as well as the need to include all stakeholders in designing and implementing an effective response. And, governments are increasingly reflecting these aspects in submission to the text under negotiation.

Women Are The Energy Decision Makers

While Congress is contemplating a new energy policy, American women are paying the electric bills at home and making the critical decisions on energy use in their homes and businesses, according to the national Women’s Survey on Energy and the Environment, the first in-depth women’s survey on attitudes and awareness about energy. The nationally representative survey of 801 women 18 years or older, commissioned by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) in collaboration with the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) shows that women want the country to move toward clean energy sources and more than half (57%) are even willing to pay $30 more per month for it.  Yet they don’t completely understand the electricity sources we use today, the impact of electricity on clean air and what is causing global warming.

From Early Warning To Early Action in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country in the world to tropical cyclones. In addition, mortality risk from cyclones is approximately 200 times higher in developing countries like Bangladesh. The combination is deadly, for both lives and livelihoods of those living in coastal areas of Bangladesh such as Noakhali. Changes in cyclone behavior have also been noted: they are impacting further inland over a greater geographic area, with increased frequency and severity, probably attributable to climate change. At the same time, effective early warning systems have been shown to save thousands of lives. The cyclone that ravaged the coastline in 1970 killed 500,000 people. In 2007, cyclone Sidr killed 3,000, a difference in death toll that is largely attributed to effective disaster preparedness measures such as the Bangladesh Red-Cresecent’s Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) and the British Red Cross co-funded Building Community Disaster Preparedness Capacity (BCDPC) project implemented with European Commission funds. The project, running for the past 3 years, supports 85 communities along the coastal areas of Bangladesh to develop their capacity towards disaster preparedness and response, with focus on addressing the specific needs of women and children.

Climate Change is Pushing Malawi Further into Poverty, Women Are Hit Worst

Climate change in Malawi is pushing people further into poverty and women are suffering most, according to a new report from international agency, Oxfam today. The report, The Wind of Change: Climate Change, Poverty and the Environment in Malawi, says that an increase in temperatures and intense rain in Malawi over the past 40 years has led to drought and flooding, causing shorter growing seasons, poor crop yields, food shortages, hunger and the spread of disease in a country where 29 percent of people already live in extreme poverty. As women have multiple roles in Malawi as farmers, child carers, providers of food, water and firewood, they are affected most by the changing climate according to the report. Women’s weak position in Malawian society also means that generally they have less access to income and credit and no voice in decision-making, making it difficult for them to find other sources of income or influence action on climate change in Malawi.

Human Rights Council Holds Panel Discussion on Climate Change and Human Rights

The Human Rights Council held a panel discussion on the relationship between climate change and human rights during which participants raised a large number of issues including the barrier that climate change posed to development in some countries; how climate change impactedon the right to life, food, safe water and health, home , land, properties, livelihoods, employment and development; and how the poor in the developing countries were the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the responsibility of developed countries which had caused the climate change to help them mitigate climate change effectes. Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, in an opening statement, said climate change posed an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world. The human impact of climate change was not only related to environmental factors but also to poverty, discrimination and inequalities. The human rights perspective, focusing on the right of everyone to dignified life based on the fundamental principles of inequality and discrimination, was particulary well-suited to analyze how climate change affected people differently.

China’s Toxic Harvest: Noxious Chinese Dryway Believed To Contain Smokestack Contaminants

Since late 2008, media coverage of problems resulting from toxic drywall imported from China has increased rapidly, with more details unfolding. This substandard drywall can be found in as many as 25,000 homes in 13 states in the USA. As homes sustain corrosion in electrical wiring, HVAC units, and even jewelry, their owners experience a myriad of illnesses and symptoms. The effects are particularly hazardous to children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with pre-existing respiratory illness.

Maldives Debates on Climate Injustice at UN

UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday debated, in full-session, on the impacts of climate change on full enjoyment of human rights, especially in vulnerable countries. The debate tabled by the Maldives, sought to portray climate change not solely as a scientific issue, but also as a matter of global injustice and human rights, with the poor and vulnerable suffering because of the pursuit of wealth in richer parts of the world. During the debate the Maldives presented a joint statement on behalf of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) outlining the massive negative impacts of global warming on their communities, calling on large emitting States to honor their international legal obligation not to interfere with the enjoyment of human rights in other countries, and urging UN human rights mechanisms to hold such countries accountable. US, EU, Brazil, China, Canada, Mauritius, Bhutan, Uruguay, UK, Russia, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia and around thirty other States took part in the debate.

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Fiji: Workshop Calls for Laws To Halt Abuse of Women

A workshop on violence against women has sparked calls for legislation encompassing all abuse against women. The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre hosted the Pacific Regional Meeting on Violence Against Women in Fiji last week with 60 attendees from 11 Pacific countries. The Deputy Coordinator of the Centre Edwina Kotoisuva says the links between human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault of women are strong. She says there is much support for an integrated approach in terms of legislation to combat the issues.

Iran: Women on Front Line of Street Protests

The iconography dominating global television coverage of Iran’s biggest demonstrations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution is stunning; women are on the front line of the protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s allegedly frauduletn re-election. It is no surprise. They feel most robbed by his “stolen” victory. “We feel cheated, frustrated and betrayed,” said an Iranian woman in a message circulated on Facebook. Iran’s energetic female activists are using the social networking site to mobilize opposition to Mr. Ahmadinejad. Iranian women also have a dynamic presence on the country’s blogosphere– the biggest in the Middle East–which they are using to keep up popular momentum against the election outcome. Many Iranian women will suspect that a prime reason the election was “stolen” was to keep them in their place. To the regime, their demands for equal rights are inseparable from the opposition’s drive for greater democracy.

Saudi Arabia: A Vow To  Help Women

Human Rights Watch said Friday Saudi Arabia has pledged to improve women’s rights by eliminating gender discrimination. Human Rights Watch said in a release Saudi Arabian leaders have agreed also to attempt to end the country’s current system of male ownership of women and grant women in Saudi Arabia a full legal identity. “Saudi women have waited a long time for these changes,” Nisha Varia, deputy director of the non-governmental organization’s women’s rights division. “Now they need concrete action so that these commitments do not remain words on paper in Geneva, but are felt by Saudi women in their daily lives.” The decision by Saudi Arabian leaders came during a review by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Human Rights Watch said members of the UN recommended in February that Saudi Arabia attempt to improve the rights of the country’s female population.

Turkey: Women’s Groups Urged Mobilization on Gender Equality

Women’s organizations have called for gender equality education for all in society starting from the top levels, including the President and the Prime Minister, and down to the bottom, including private citizens, police officers, judges and prosecutors in the wake of a landmark European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decision that punished Turkey for failing to provide its citizens with bettter protection from domestic abuse. Hulya Gulbahar, chairwoman of the Association for Educating and Supporting Women Candidates (KA-DER) said society needs to be educated on the issue of gender equality to overcome domestic violence. “There must be gender equality education for the whole of society including the President and the Prime Minister,” she said speaking at a press conference organized by the TCK Woman Platform, which had successfully lobbied for changes in the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) to protect women’s rights. Gulbahar added that all ministries should be mobilized to guarantee gender equality.

Pakistan: 56 Percent Women Get Share in Property

According to Gilani Research Foundation survey, 56 percent Pakistanis believe that women in Pakistan get their share in family property while 44 percent claim of women not receiving their due property share. A nationally representative sampleof  men and women from across the country were asked, “In your view, do women in your household or in families around you get their legal share as prescribed by the Islamic Law (Shariah)”? The data reveals that an equal percentage of both men and women believe that women in their family or in other families receive their proper amount of share as prescribed in Islamic Law. It is also seen that a proportionately higher percentage of urbanites that ruralites and respondents from higher income groups have claimed that women in their families or in families around them are given their proper share in the family’s property.

Uganda: Brides Pay Price of Being Bought?

The chilling story of Nathan Awoloi, a hunter from Palisa district in Eastern Uganda who allegedly forced his wife, Jennifer Alupot, to breastfeed puppies, has triggered Ugandan women activists into calling for outlawing the long held tradition of bride-price. Apparently, Awoloi claimed he had paid his two cows which were previously giving him milk to feed his puppies as bride price to his wife’s family, he reasoned that the bride should breastfeed his dogs. The bizarre incident has since led women activists to claim that the practice of bride price has dehumanized, enslaved and trapped women in the hands of men. They wan the ministry of Justice and parliament to push for laws regarding gender equality and bride price to change people’s attitude. The activists are convinced the practice is no longer fashionable.

Malaysia: More Women Choosing Entrepreneurship As Career

More women in Malaysia are choosing entrepreneurship for a career despite the various challenges they face such as lack of financial support and competitiveness in the market, Deputy Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said. She said the government was concerned about these challenges and the relevant ministries has tasked to identify the factors which impeded one from progressing in business. Chew said 99 per cent of the small and medium enterprise companies in the country were involved in the services, manufacturing and agricultural sectors and women owned 16 percent of the companies, primarily in the services sector. 

OnlineWomenBulletin 23 May 2009

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” The breakthrough in Saturday’s elections are the culmination of four decades of Kuwaiti women’s struggle for their rights and political participation. Frustration with the past two parliaments pushed voters to seek change and here it comes in the form of this sweeping victory for women.”

Dr. Massouma al-Mubarak, one of the four women elected to the Parliament of Kuwait. She’s also Kuwait’s first female Cabinet Minister.

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Kuwait: Women Won Four (4) Parliament Seats, First Time

Women have won four (4) seats in Kuwait’s parliament, the first women to do so in the Gulf Arab state’s history, official election results showed on Sunday. Kuwaiti women were first given the right to vote and run for office in 2005 but failed to win any seats in the 2006 and 2008 elections, held in Kuwait where politics is widely seen as man’s domain. There were 16 women among the 210 candidates for the 50-seat assembly in Saturday’s election. The official KUNA news agency said liberal candidates Aseel al-Awadhi and Rula Dashti came in second and seventh place in the third constituency, giving them both seats in the house. Former health minister Massouna Al Mubarak, who became the first Kuwaiti woman minister in 2005, and another female candidate, Salwa Al Jassar, also secured seats in Parliament.

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India: Four (4) Women Candidates Register Wins In Gujarat

Four out of five women candidates fielded by the two national parties–Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)– in Gujarat, have emerged victorious in the Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat. For the 15th Lok Sabha elections, Congress fielded two women candidates while three women from BJP were in the fray. While all BJP contestants won their respective seats, only one Congresswoman was successful. The BJP had fielded women candidates from the Kutch (reserved for SC), Mehsana and Surat constituency, while the Congress had put up women candidates from Dahod (reserved for ST) and Amreli. BJP’s Poonam Jat contesting from SC reserved constituency of Kutch defeated Congress’ Danicha Valjibhai with a margin of 71,343 votes.

Iran: Will It Get A Female President? 

 On June 12, Iranians will go to the polls to elect a president and this year there is a possibility that one of the prominent contenders will be a woman, Rafat Bayat. According to Kamran Daneshjoo, the head of Iran’s election committee, there have been some 475 registrations including 42 women. Women registered as candidates in the 2001 and 2005 presidential elections but were later barred from running in the final contest. This year things seem more hopeful particularly since the supervisory Guardian Council stated in April that there is no restriction on women standing. The final approved list of presidential candidates is expected within a few days, but Bayat’s staunchly conservative credentials should stand her in good stead with the selection committee.

New Zealand: Women Learn About Leadership

Leadership is not about holding positions and power, says a New Zealand renowned figures in politics, governance and public service, Dr. Marilyn Waring. She highlighted this when addressing a gathering of women who work in different government ministries, recently, “Leadership is a fragile and fleeting dynamic. “Those who lead to change from moment to moment, as our purpose and process calls to different experience and skills. But leaders are expected to be social,” said Dr. Waring. She advised participants that none of them should be intense to see discrimination of women voice as many women stood for the reason and women in the Solomon Island should also stood for the same reason. Dr. Waring explained that leadership is a great deal to do more process and to give in with the team. “It is about being available to make a final decision and putting in personal boundaries.”

Indonesia: More Women Lawmakers But Change Not Their Agenda

Indonesia’s direct legislative election in April was a resounding success for women candidates. But instead of rejoicing, activists and political observers say it is unlikely to help the cause of women’s rights. Titi Sumbung, Executive Director of the Indonesia Center for Women in Politics (ICWIP), says more women in the legislature are welcome, but the majority of female lawmakers lack political experience. The non-governmental ICWIP aims to promote gender equity in the country. “We are pleased with the result, especially because it was unexpected,” Sumbung remarks. “But it seems that women with a proven track record in defending women’s issues did not manage to win seats while actresses, singers and relatives of powerful politicians did.” Results of the April 9 poll showed a significant increase in the female legislators—-from 11.8 percent to between 17 and 19 percent in the 560-member House.

Lebanon: Where Are Our Women MPs?

Out of the 587 candidates running in the Lebanese parliamentary elections this year, only 12 are women. If half of the female candidates make it, which, judging by previous elections results and current alliances, is highly unexpected, female representation in parliament would amount to mere four percent. Increasing female political participation has been listed practically every single political platform, from Hezbollah’s to Future’s, but Lebanese women still show dismal numbers in parliament, something their sisters in many countries across the globe surpassed a long time ago. Of the 12 women who are running this year, only a few are listed on the tickets of political parties.

Zimbabwe: Play Active Role in Constitutional Process, Women MPs Told

Senate President Edna Madzongwe has underscored the need for women parliamentarians to play an active role in the constitution-making process. Addressing participants at a four-day workshop organized by Women in Politics Support Unit in Nyanga, the Senate President emphasized the need for women parliamentarians to unite so that, “Unity plays an important role and experience has shown that all successful liberation movements the world over used the principle of unity to attain their goals.” “Likewise, women parliamentarians need not reinvent the wheel in order to successfully participate in the constitution making process, but we need to unite and form a common front in order to articulate issues effectively,” she said.




Climate Role Is Urged For Women

Efforts to tackle climate change must take into account the needs of women, who will be among the hardest hit by warming temperatures across the world, the Women’s Institute (WI) urged. Women also have a unique role to play in addressing the problem, in their position in-charge of households and as consumers and guardians of natural resources. WI leaders have called on the Government to give women a greater role in efforts to tackle climate change . The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) is launching a postcard campaign today urging ministers to take account of the needs of women in climate change policies and recognize the threats they face in the developing world.

Women-Led Recycling Initiative Wins An International Environment Prize

When young women group together they can make great, positive changes. Through her Bali-based NGO Bali Fokus, Yuyun Ismawati, and her followers  have created programs to help the environment and change the future of the island. They recycle solid waste into useful, profitable merchandise and have become actively involved in the waste management of the region’s ubiquitous pig farms. But these are just some of the planet-saving initiatives they are engaged in. Yuyun’s efforts to recycle began in 1996 and have earned her international acknowledgement as this year’s recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, complete with US$150,000. The Goldman Environmental Prize is an award dedicated to environmental heroes whose efforts to protect the world’s natural resources are increasingly critical to the well-being of the planet we all share.

More Women Think Warming Occurring

Women at Ohio State are more likely to think global warming is happening than men, according to a recent survey of 3,568 undergraduate students. The random, scientifically, valid survey conducted by Erik Nisbet, an assistant professor in the School of Communication, found that almost 93% of women agree global warming is happening while 87 percent of men say the same. More significantly, women attribute the cause of warming to humans more than men. Nearly 72 percent of women say global warming is caused mostly by human activity, while just 54 percent of men blame humans. More men say natural changes in the environment cause global warming and more men believe global warming is not happening at all. Furthermore, women are much more worried about the harm global warming might cause animals, people in the USA and their families.

Solahart Industries Urge Australian Women To Fight Against Climatic Change

A new movement of Australian women of all ages and backgrounds—from school children to celebrated elders and local community stalwarts to business and political leaders–has united to drive practical action on climate change. The 1 Million Women Campaign, which is sponsored by Solahart Industries, will engage, empower and motivate women to cut carbon pollution in their daily lives–through the home, food, shopping, transport and travel. The two-year national campaigns aims to recruit 1 million women in Australia to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 1 tonne each. This will stop 1 million tonnes of CO2 pollution from entering the atmosphere and will be equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off the road for 12 months–enough pollution to fill 2.1 billion wheelie bins or 20 billion balloons.

Living With Disasters in Bangladesh

The Fourth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that as many as 1 million people of Bangladesh will be climate refugees by 2050 due to sea level rise in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basins in Bangladesh. In the short run, however, the report has predicted severe changes in weather patterns resulting from global warming, which would lead to increased frequency of natural disasters like drought, flood, tornado and cyclone in Bangladesh. Therefore, both in the short-run as well as in the long run Bangladesh will have to bear with the effects of climate change. Who is affected by this? The answer is clear—children are the most affected group, followed by women and the elderly.It is therefore, important to understand the impact of climate change from these perspectives.

India Gears Up for Battle on Climate Change Funds

The United Nations (UN) will release this week the negotiating texts for the December summit on climate change in Copenhagen, marking another milestone in the countdown to a grueling battle over the funds developing nations need to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The texts, to be relased by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), will be debated by ministerial delegates when they meet in Bonn, Germany, next month, one of a slew of meetings running up to the Copenhagen summit that will be attended by 190 countries. The pages of text will be scrutinized, bitterly disputed, erased, rephrased and bracketed many times over before any agreement is reached. A key issue is a proposal for “long term cooperative action” that would spell out the action to be taken by developing nations to reduce emissions. The mitigating action is to be funded by advanced countries held responsible for most of the emissions responsible for global warming.

Asia-Pacific Nations Agree To Protect Reef Network

Six (6) Asia-Pacific countries agreed Friday on a wide-ranging plan to protect one of the world’s largest networks of coral reef, promising to reduce pollution, eliminate over-fishing and improve the livelihoods of impoverished coastal communities. The agreement at the World Oceans Conference creates a voluntary management plan for an area defined as teh Coral Triangle, which spans Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. It accounts for a third of the world’s coral reefs and 35 percent of coral reef fish species. Several governments committed money to the plan during the two-day meeting including the United States, which pledged $40 million over five years. The agreement, known as the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, follows a symbolic memorandum signed earlier in the meeting by government officials from 80 countries. It calls for improved efforts to protect oceans from over development and illegal fishing.

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Philippines: “Reduce Maternal Deaths”—UNICEF

The UN children’s agency urged the Philippines to do more to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality in the Southeast Asian nation. UNICEF country representative, Vanessa Tobin, on a visit to a Manila hospital where she saw babies being delivered, said the agency was puzzled why one woman dies every two hours due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth. “We need to understand why despite the available health care services, many of our pregnant women choose to deliver without proper care of skilled health workers,” Tobin said in a statement released to journalists accompanying her on the tour. Data from a 2009 UNICEF report shows a Filipina mother has a one in 140 chances of dying while delivering a child compared with one in 8,000 in industrialized countries. This translates to around 11 mothers dying every day or 4,500 a year due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.

Bangladesh: Sexual Harassment Ban Introduced

Bangladesh’s high court moved to plug a gaping hole in the country’s laws by introducing a first-ever ban on sexual harassment, an official said. The decision was immediately hailed by activists as a major step forward for the protection of women in the South Asian nation. Deputy Attorney-General Rajik Al Jalil said the new guidelines covered verbal abuse and physical attacks, including the sending of suggestive text messages. He said the ban was an interim measure until new legislation could be passed in parliament. Until now sexual harassment has not been considered a criminal act. “The high court laid down these guidelines to stop sexual harassment in education institutions and the workplace”, he said. No punishment had been finalized and each offence would be considered on a case-to-case basis, he added. Rehana Sultana of the Bangladeshi National Women’s Lawyers Association, who helped petition for the guidelines, said women in Bangladesh had often fell helpless and ashamed to speak out if they were harassed because there was no law to protect them.

Sri Lanka: Some 350 Mothers To Deliver Babies in IDP Camps

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) expects some 350 pregnant women to give birth in camps in Northern Sri Lanka next month where ferocious battle between government troops and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is still raging on. The agency said that thousands of pregnant women had fled the fighting zone and it is stepping up its health and safety mechanisms to handle the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs)—-particularly women and pregnant mothers. “At least 3,000 pregnant women have fled the fighting in Northern Sri Lanka in recent days and some 350 will give birth in the next month,”. “Health facilities are overstretched but so far we are not aware of any maternal death. It could help further if we have comprehensive emergency care to treat and manage complicated pregnancies,” a UNFPA official said.

Viet Nam: Narrowing Gender Gaps

An increased role for women in society would promote their more active and effective participation in socio-economy development, Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan said. The Vice President, who was speaking at the 19th Global Summit of Women in Santiago, Chile, emphasized that it was essential for global governments to create conditions for women to participate in politics, business and key economic sectors. Appropriate government policies would boost implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000 intended to promote gender equality and empower women, she said. Viet Nam was among the first-ranked countries for women participating in business, the Vice President said. Viet Nam was also among the fastest of Southeast Asian nations in the alleviation of the gender gap and had been so for the past 20 years.

Afghanistan: “Women, Vital for the Future”—French FM

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in Kabul that there would be no progress in Afghanistan without its women, adding that things are “going better” in the turbulent nation. Wrapping up a three-day visit, the minister said he had noted an “admirable courage” among the Afghan women he met during his trip. “The future of democracy passes through women”, Kouchner told reporters. “Without the women in Afghanistan, there will be no progress.” The 1996-2001 Taliban regime denied women an education, and only the minority are literate. Most do not have jobs or income, with abuse rife although access to justice is limited. Parliament this year passed a family law governing practices in the Shiite minority that critics say obliges women to have sex with their husbands and limits their movements outside of the home among several issues. President Hamid Karzai has ordered a review.

Solomon Islands: Three (3) Women Graduated with Australian Prestigious Award

Three (3) Solomon Islands women will graduate with the Australian’s prestigious scholarship, the Australian Leadership Award. They are among few Australian Leadership Award (ALA) scholars who will also be graduating this year. Ethel Frances from Renbel province who is undertaking the Masters in Business Administration at the Queensland University in Brisbane, will be graduating in July. Louisa Fakaia, from South Malaita, who is pursuing the Masters in Public Policy (International Policy) and Jennifer Fugui, from North Malaita, who is doing Masters in Public Policy (Policy Analysis) both studying at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, will be fnishing in November 2009. Fakaia and Fugui have already graduated with a graduate diploma in Public Administration in 2008 from ANU. The three women are the only females among a total of 16 recipients of the ALA scholarship from the Solomons.

Indonesia: Economy in Very Good Hands

Two women, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and acting Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Miranda Goeltom, will take the helm of Indonesia’s economy over the next few weeks as the incumbent President, Vice President and many cabinet ministers will be preoccupied campaigning for the July 8 presidential election. Fortunately for all of us, the economy has performed exceptionally well so far during this highly politicized period, recording growth of 4.4 percent in the first quarter, much higher than most of other countries despite the global financial crisis and sharp downturn. Sri Mulyani will be leading fiscal management, but also, in her capacity as acting coordinating minister for the economy, trade and industry, oversees the government’s macro economic policies.