Rio+20: Effects of climate change on women

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Laura Tresca

16 Jun 2012


ARTICLE 19 South America created this film for Rio+20 to show how climate change affects women.


+ The climate is changing.

+ Everybody knows this and feels the climate change daily.

+ There are several explanations for these changes

+ From the amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere to agricultural monoculture and deforestation.

+ Climate change is caused by how society is organized

+ So, selling fuel becomes more important than providing life, health and quality of life for people

+ Human beings still think that they are more powerful than nature and not a part of something bigger. But we are included in something  bigger which is nature

+ It's time for us to think very quickly and see if we can stop the damage now because it’s too late to reverse this process.

+ But we can still stop it.

+ How do women realize the climate change?

+ Brazil suffers the consequences of climate change according to its length.

+ The drought area covers part of Brazilian northeast.

+ It reaches the states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Paraiba, Rio Grande do Norte, Piaui, Ceara ....

+ And a small part of Sergipe, Alagoas and Minas Gerais.

+ The rain used to fall only three or four months of the year

+ But the women of Cumaru – Pernambuco already feel the difference:

+ The weather is hotter. The climate is changing.

+ The sun used to be cooler.

+ Nowadays, at 8 am the sun is hot, hot.

+ The weather is not as it was in the past, no.

+ The temperature is really changing.

+ The animals go to eat in the pen, but when it's as hot as today.. I was there; I saw all the sheep were tired.

+ When the sun became hot they went to the shade

+ I said: the animals are all tired!

+ But it was the temperature, because it was so hot

+ In the past, there was more winter

+ Nowadays, we don’t make any profit, which helped us give them a lot of corn and beans too.

+ Nowadays, we don’t have any anymore.

+ The people in the countryside work, work and at the end of the harvest when everything is not enough.

+ It´s different from the past.

+ So, we have to find another way of life, because if you only work on the farm it isn´t feasible.

+ Brazil has 9.198 kilometers of coastline.

+ The study "Erosion and degradation of the Brazilian coast" by the Ministry of Environment shows that the sea’s breakthrough is a phenomenon registered in all states bordering the Atlantic Ocean.

+ The residents of quilombo Mandira in Cananeia in the State of São Paulo notice the impactof rising sea level in their neighborhood and canexperience the increasing temperature of the oceans

+ Farmers destroyed the forest a lot there.

+ So, God forgives, but nature does not forgive and is taking revenge.

+ It’s  happening here

+ In Iguape, known as the Valo Grande, the houses on the coast have been affected

+ Also in the swamp, when you extract the oyster mangrove and the sun is too hot, you see a lot of dead oysters.

+ In the nursery it dies, because you make a nursery, a board screen ...

+ It's like an oyster farm.

+ You make the screens and put them.

+ You take it from the mangrove and put it in the nursery.

+ The oyster stays in the nursery, all in layers.

+ When the tide has dried, it is there, with the mouth closed.

+ When the tide begins to rise, the tide is coming in it, you already see that it starts to sneeze that water up.

+ At this moment, it is beginning to open its mouth to begin filtering the water and food.

+ I think this is the reason, the water is too hot. 

+ Besides, in the large Brazilian cities, especially São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the challenges of climate change are the risk of landslides.

+ In these regions, the disasters always result in a large number of deaths due to the very populated areas.

+ People in Jardim Angela in Sao Paulo and in Chafik area in Maua  talk about how they experience the changes in the climate: 

+ When it´s raining, the water falls from here.  It downs lots of water with mud and garbage. Everything stops next to my window and water enters in my room. For instance,  this week we had three days of rain. In these three days my room was full of water. I had to take the bed off the floor to avoid the dirt . The water did not entered into my boys’ room.

+ The consequences may reach catastrophic levels. 

+ The number of natural disasters in the world increased significantly in the last century.

+ In the 60´s, annually, there were less than 100 cases reported.

+ In the 2000´s, there were at least 350 extreme events  in the year.

+ In Brazil, in 2012, 2055 municipalities have a declared  state of emergency or state of public calamity.

+ In 2011, the investments in response to natural disasters and reconstruction were about 680 million of reais.

+ The expenditure on prevention and disaster prevention were 65 million.

+ The source is the transparency website of the Federal Government.

+ How does climate change affect women?

+ The women are part of this because women’s work, women’s time and women’s body are resources that are also explored by model that we have.

+ By social convention - though society has determined the role that  women and men should have – we are in charge for the life replacement, for the life care.

+ But from the function of caring for the replacement of life, we end up with the consequences of environmental imbalance. The environmental imbalance makes people sick and makes the planet sick. And, at the end, who cares for people and the planet are the women.

+ Without doubt, women are who suffer most from the consequences of climate change

+ In the drought area, they are the ones with tins of water on the head.

+ On the coast, they are who have to seek for an alternative to complement the family income when the oysters die because of the high temperature of sea water.

+ In the cities, they are the ones who are at home caring for children or the elderly when the landslides occur.

+ We used to take the horses, saddle them and went far to take water for drinking.

+ For God sake! We used to leave home early. 4 a.m or 5a.m  was the  time we used to go out to feed the cattle and take the water far away from here. There was a water hole downstairs. In order to get water to the cattle, bad water, sometimes we went out at 3 am.

+ Clean water... We have to buy or the neighbor who has a water stock will give us water to drink.

+ Who has a water stock has water. But who doesn’t have a water stock, stays without water to drink in the summer.

+ In cold weather we work with seed, vine and a fiber called pirí. We do crafts todisplay in the counter as you see there. The people who come to visit us can buy. But the craft stays there and the chill molds it. It’s complicated...

+ There was a bridge here where the dam’s water used to pass under it. Someday this bridge fell and the mothers couldn’t take their children to school anymore. And they had to build the bridge again in order to let the people go by.

+ And this bridge was made of wood. So, it may break suddenly, at any time, and people will fall into the dam. A few days ago it was raining and it was too slippery.

+ We couldn’t get to go to school. Now, they built another bridge; but  its only muddy. When it’s raining I can’t go to school, even my baby stays at a day care center in the same street. So, it’s impossible to cross the bridge with my son and the school backpack. So, I don´t go. I just have to miss school so I can stay home with my son.

+ How can access to information and the freedom of expression be useful for women?

+ Having access to information is the first step you can take to be able to address any problem.

+ The access to any type of information is important. In the specific case of women, they can use this information that came to them as an ally to change the environment where they live.

+ To provide information to people makes them critical of the things that are happening around them.

+ By having access to such information women can meet each other, mobilize and seek for solutions for climate change and also try to reduce their vulnerabilities.

Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided 

+ Sometimes we can manage on our own, but we have no knowledge, no information and we ask for or even humbling to have a chance of one or other makes it for us. Sometimes people want the information, knock on the door because we want to have information and the information doesn´t exist.

+ We're in a process in which we fight for information and fail. They deal with ignorance. Sometimes we leave there feeling ashamed of the people who help you, because they help you with rudeness.

+ It's good to know [about the access to information law], because when we want to claim our rights we have the opportunity to seek and know how we will reach this.

+ Only with proper access to information, people can have an opinion

+ And organize themselves to make their claims

+ Or express their ideas to influence policies

 + Or to report the specific challenges they face because of the climate change.

+ Women need to access information in order to participate in the decision making of  the mitigation plans.

 + Their voices, from those most affected by climate change, are not being heard

+ But they have a lot to say: 

+ I want to ask to our governments - and charge them - to look after this rural population, but ensure a more sustainable world. Not like it is nowadays, with deforestation and degradation. I want a world that is more happy and calm for young people, for elder people, for those who are here right now and for those who will come.

+ We want to improve sewers, roads… In the dry season, we want more staff to clean up our street, to collect the garbage, check the drains, see if everything is right ...

+ I want to ask the governments to think more about the  poor people in our city and ask to construct water stocks with plate. In rural and urban areas, people may have built water stocks and it should not stop. Many water stocks must be built because the poor people need water to survive and have a healthy diet.

+ We need a public health clinic, a public telephone and, especially, the title of our land, because for a long time we are trying to achieve it and we didn’t get yet.

+… to foster the reforestation with seedlings, to encourage rural workers and even city people to plant a tree in front of the house.

- My message to the authorities is to devote more of their time to the population…. That they  look at us as human beings, because, yes, we are important.  Investing in health, leisure, sports, public transport, which is terrible in our region. Give a closer look, with  the solidarity that perhaps you not have not.


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