Today, 8th March 2022, is United Nations’ International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.
PeakCare acknowledges with respect and sorrow those who have lost loved ones or possessions in recent events. In having a conversation about sustainability, we cannot ignore what is happening on our doorstep. We all know the eastern seaboard of Australia is reeling from devastating flooding. In response to this, there has been a raising of voices to call for action on climate change as we grapple with the understanding that what we have witnessed may become more common in our weather patterns.
Action on climate change through sustainability is fundamental to protecting us all. We must learn to adapt, mitigate and respond to build a future for ourselves and our children. We must ensure that women and girls have as much access and opportunity to participate in climate action as possible because without the inclusion of half of the world’s population, it is unlikely that solutions for a sustainable planet and a gender equal world tomorrow will be realised.
“The climate crisis is not ‘gender neutral’. Women and girls experience the greatest impacts of climate change, which amplifies existing gender inequalities and poses unique threats to their livelihoods, health, and safety.”
The latest data from the UN shows that 80% of people currently displaced by climate change related natural disasters are women and girls. The trauma, disease and poverty left in the wake of these disasters will impact generations to come. Women are more likely to experience domestic and family violence in the wake of a natural disaster. Women and girls’ health are at risk with the escalation of climate change, research showing that extreme heat increases the incidence of stillbirth, and other climate change related events increase the spread of vector-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus. There have been recent cases of Japanese Encephalitis in southern Queensland (and other states around Australia), a disease which may lead to severe symptoms including long-term neurological damage and death with 75% of cases occurring in young children. Both the preceding article and recent news reports quoting Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud have attributed the spread of the disease to climate change. We cannot have discussions on sustainability without respectfully asking our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls to share their knowledge of Country. The impact of climate change on Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health are discussed in this paper from the Lowjita Institute, which found “climate change is compounding historical injustices and disrupts cultural and spiritual connections to Country that are central to health and wellbeing”. The paper also indicated there is much to learn around climate action planning based on “their intimate traditional and historical knowledges of Country”.
There is so much to be done to build gender equality and sustainability and often it can feel overwhelming. PeakCare would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the young women and girls who are on the front lines of climate action and invite you to read about the wonderful work some of these people are doing to ensure a sustainable future. We also invite you, our supporters, to take some time today not only to celebrate the wonderful women and girls in your life but consider what you are doing in your day-to-day life to build gender equality through sustainability.