Saturday, 19 December 2009

Gender@COP15: more awareness needed, says former FSM Attorney-General

Lisa Williams-Lahari, Climate Pasifika Media
Friday 19 December 2009, COPENHAGEN--They were loud and proud at the NGO Clima Forum held outside the official COP15 venue where Fiji's Ashwini Prahba, now of WWF International was a powerful part of the lobbying. They were visible and strong at the side events and planning sessions of the Gender caucuses within the wings of COP15, where Pacific WAVE Coordinator Ulamila Wragg presented on a panel alongside Mary Robinson. But overall, COP15 was a copout for gender activists who wanted to see specific and stronger language  to highlight the vulnerability of women and children, and the social injustices deepened by the impact of climate change. Meanwhile, for FSM-based lawyer and activist Marstella Jack, the largest challenge when it comes to gender and climate change remains awareness at ground zero to drive the messages home. The former Attorney-General of FSM spent two decades with women and gender issues in the public service before making the switch to private practice, NGOism where she currently sits on the Climate Action Network's board of directors. She says we need to step up on gender issues and how they affect human and food security in changing climate conditions:

TRANSCRIPT: Marstella Jack, Lawyer, Climate change activist, FSM

Marstella Jack: In the Pacific we have the problem of women being marginalised, not women -- but our issues, our women's issues. We have that problem so to add on climate change just exacerbates the development issues that affect women. So I think we also need to sensitise our leaders about this dynamic of climate change and gender. We have a lot of work ahead of us and I hope we can get all right people in the pacific and in our island countries to do this and partner up with the government, with our leaders to work on this.

(On the questions of awareness by our Pacific women and climate change as a cross cutting issues):

Their understanding on climate change?The issue itself is that ''oh, something is changing in the atmostphere, it's getting hot, hotter these days"... but thats the limit of what they know about climate change. They dont understand the cross cutting issues with respect to how its affecting our health, with respect to how it's affecting how we collect food, how we plant or how we basically provide for our families...subsistence living. They have very little if any understanding of climate change and how it affects our daily lives in the Pacific. I think they also understand that the sea level is rising but that's about it. I think we need a lot of empowerment work to get to our women, to get to the grass roots.--ENDS

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