Women and Girls, the Most Affected by the El Niño Phenomenon

The rigors associated with the El Niño phenomenon are already being felt. In a large part of Latin America, dry weather is already prevalent, leading to consequences such as water scarcity, droughts, and the risks of forest fires.

The Woman Post | Ayda María Martínez Ipuz

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According to the UN, threats to biodiversity and the climate crisis disproportionately harm women, not only because they are the water providers in their households but also because they often have to undertake long journeys to obtain water.

"Unsustainable agricultural practices are eroding soils 100 times faster than nature can restore them. Up to 40% of our planet's lands are already degraded, endangering food production, threatening biodiversity, and worsening the climate crisis," stated UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a video message, urging all governments to remove legal barriers that prevent women from owning land and involve them in policy-making.

This situation primarily affects women and girls: "They suffer disproportionately from food insecurity, water scarcity, and forced migration resulting from land degradation. Despite this, they have the least control over the situation," he warned.

Guterres called on UN member countries to develop gender equality policies, enabling women and girls to play their role in protecting natural resources and becoming leaders in ending "land degradation by 2030."

"We depend on the land to survive, and yet we treat it as if it were a mud pit," added the UN chief, emphasizing the need for action.

Women represent nearly half of the world's agricultural workforce, but discriminatory practices related to land ownership, access to credit, wage equality, and decision-making often hinder their participation in land stewardship. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), less than one in five landowners worldwide are women.

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Empowering Women is Necessary

Therefore, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification recently launched a campaign highlighting the contributions of women to the protection of natural resources, especially land.

According to the Convention's data, if women and girls are granted equal access, they can increase agricultural productivity, restore land, and enhance resilience to drought.

Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland and Ambassador of the Earth to the Convention, stated that immediate action is necessary. "Addressing gender inequalities is not only the right thing to do," she affirmed. "If we ensure that women can fully utilize their capabilities, knowledge, talents, and leadership potential, our societies will be better."

The El Niño phenomenon is already present

According to reports from global climate agencies, the El Niño phenomenon, expected to be fully active from August and extend until March 2024, combined with global warming, can accelerate a climate crisis due to a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the average temperature, which currently stands at 14.6 degrees, essential for supporting life on the planet. Projections indicate that catastrophic climate events associated with high temperatures are expected in the next five years.

Recommendations include reducing water and energy consumption in households and industries and preparing for water storage.

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