My name is Patience. I am one of the women delegates, supported by the Women’s Delegate Fund at the UNFCCC negotiations. In my home country of Ghana, women constitute about 50.5% of the total population and about 30% are heads of households according to the 2000 census. They control key productive sectors particularly in agriculture and in other sectors that are vulnerable to climate change. They constitute 52% of the agriculture labor force, contribute 46% to the total GDP and produce 70% of subsistence crops.
All over the world, climate change does not affect women and men in the same way and therefore has a gender-differentiated impact. This emphasizes that all aspects of climate change (adaptation, mitigation, policy development, and decision making) must always include a gender perspective. With climate change, access to basic needs and natural resources becomes a big challenge and natural disasters reinforce traditional gender roles. Women in both rural and urban areas in Ghana are responsible for food, water and energy for cooking. Depending on the area, women and children have to travel over long distances to look for water and fuel wood. The literacy level of women in Ghana is still lower than men and therefore women have unequal access to information and capital to take decisions. This presents a challenge because when these facts are considered, the specific needs of women in relation to climate change are largely overlooked.
Increasing women’s participation in decision-making is an opportunity for action which is a current priority of a new initiative launched earlier this year in Ghana called the Gender Action on Climate Change for Equality and Sustainability (GACCES). GACCES is being sponsored by UNIFEM to undertake a project, “Building Capacities to Influence Climate Change Policies from a Gender Perspective”, which targets women and gender institutions and networks as primary actors and beneficiaries. Other target groups are policy makers, media practitioners, chiefs and community leaders, private sector institutions and civil society organizations.
As part of this project, a training of trainers’ workshop was organized by GACCES for local civil society organizations (CSOs) based in the ten regions of Ghana. A total of thirty people, three from each region, participated in the workshop on July 7, 2010. As these civil society organizations get a clear understanding of the causes and impacts of climate change which affect people’s livelihoods, they can also sensitize women and men in the communities, particularly on measures for mitigation and adaptation.