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Climate change

How does climate change magnify gender inequality?

The climate emergency does not affect all equally. Flood and drought zones often overlap with areas of high poverty leaving children and families who rely on agriculture and natural resources struggling to cope.

By 2050, climate change could potentially increase the number of undernourished children under the age of five by 20 to 25 million. Women and girls are particularly affected.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty and Human Rights recently pointed to the potential for “climate apartheid” due to the climate change impacts exacerbating global inequality and poverty.

80% of people displaced by the climate emergency around the globe are women and girls.

The climate emergency and girls

One of the most devastating consequences of climate change will be a reversal of the already slow progress on girls’ rights and gender equality.

Girls living in marginalized settings – especially adolescent girls who experience double-discrimination based on their age and gender – are already at risk of low education, child marriage, early pregnancy and childbirth, and sexual violence. The pressures of the climate emergency on their communities can make everything worse.

Girls’ education is often the first thing families sacrifice when faced with the impacts of the climate emergency.

In food shortages caused by the climate emergency, girls are more likely to go hungry and at home will often eat least and last.

Child marriage is an all too common coping response to economic hardship. Many more parents are likely to marry off their daughters as a result of the climate emergency, putting millions of girls at risk of sexual and physical abuse, early pregnancy and maternal death.

By 2050, it is estimated the climate emergency will create up to 143 million additional climate-migrants in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America as agricultural conditions and water availability deteriorate. Millions of them will be girls and young women.

Reduced availability of fuel for cooking and the effects of droughts and floods as a result of climate events mean girls and women spend many more hours collecting firewood and water.

Girls and young women who are forced to leave their homes by the effects of the climate emergency face a loss of access to education, a much higher risk of violence and abuse, and loss of community support and livelihoods.

Girls are at the forefront of the global climate justice movement and have an important role to play as leaders and innovator of climate solutions. Adolescent girls and women must be engaged as active participants and decision makers in climate policy.


19-year-old girl Sohagi
We, the next generation, are part of the solution. We want to be a partner to policy makers in finding sustainable solutions. The future depends on us. Let’s get to work - for us, for Dhaka, for the planet
19-year-old girl Sohagi, who lives in a slum in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka

Impact of the changing climate

A 1.5 degree Celsius increase could lead to 122 million additional people experiencing extreme poverty with substantial economic loses for the poorest 20% of the population.

Floods & water scarcity

Family wading through flood water
  • An additional 450 million people at risk from doubling of flood frequency
  • UN predicts water scarcity will displace up to 700 million people

Droughts & food scarcity

Mother and child walking
  • 30% of the agricultural losses caused by disasters were due to drought
  • UN predicts the climate emergency could lead to more than 1 billion people who don’t have enough to eat by 2050, an increase of 25%

Disasters

Family sitting
  • 17.2 million people fled disasters in 125 countries, $130B in damages
  • 3 times more disasters from 2000 to 2009 compared to 1980 and 1989

Pollution

Two girls standing
  • 2 billion children live in areas where air pollution exceeds the minimum air quality guidelines
  • 7 million people per year die from air pollution-related diseases

How is Plan International Canada responding to the climate emergency?

Plan International Canada supports youth to grow awareness of their rights and put themselves at the forefront as agents of sustainable development. We engage with communities, especially youth, as they become leaders in climate change solutions through a variety of themes.

Agriculture

Plan International Canada works with young people and their families to develop solar irrigation alternatives and climate-smart agriculture solutions. In addition to being more sustainable and increasing production, these solutions help farmers manage the impacts of increased drought and unpredictable rains on their crops. We work with local farmers to develop production systems targeted to best respond to the impacts of climate change in their environment, while equipping them to adjust these systems to suit changing conditions over time.

Plan International Canada is also improving farmers’ access to weather and planting information, right from their phones, so that they can make the best farming decisions for their crops. To further support these agricultural changes, Village, Savings and Loans and Associations are formed, in many communities where we work, providing a tool for communities to collectively support each other and adapt through the financial shocks and stresses that climate change can cause.

Lady picking vegetables

Alternative Energy Solutions

Partnering with solar distributors, our programming is providing remote communities with affordable alternatives to light their homes. Our project trained young women to be renewable energy entrepreneurs to increase the last mile reach of household solar products.

Through awareness raising activities, informed communities are better equipped to tackle the negative impacts non-renewable resources (such as kerosene and wood fuels) has on the environment and their homes. Together we focus our efforts to provide alternative, renewable energy solutions to meet the needs of local communities and businesses. Already, more than 4,000 solar energy systems have been purchased by households allowing young people more time to study in the evenings, families, particularly girls to feel safer travelling through the community at night, and less use of harmful fuels.

Woman working with solar panel

Greening the economy

Plan International Canada is working to equip young people, particularly adolescent girls and young women with “Green Skills,” the education, skills and training needed to enter into a new, environmentally sustainable job market.

Youth are building their employability skills to enter the workforce or begin businesses in innovative green sectors such as solar panel repair and installation, irrigation technologies, or recycling. Equipped with the information and tools to capitalize on emerging market spaces, youth are being positioned to launch new agricultural and upcycling initiatives.

Lady working a field

Combatting Child Early and Forced Marriage

Climate change can lead to shortages in agricultural production and increases the frequency and intensity of storms causing disasters, making it difficult for the most vulnerable to recover from the financial hardships caused by climate change. For families living in poverty, child marriage is often seen as a way to ensure their daughters will be taken care of and provided for.

Plan International Canada is working in these disaster-prone areas to support sustainable businesses and combat child marriage. Through sustainable enterprises such as aquaculture, saline-resistant agriculture and mangrove planting, young people, particularly girls and young women are increasing their economic opportunities, which provides an alternative to child marriage. This programming builds up communities to withstand disasters, while empowering girls to make informed decisions that affect their lives.

Child bride

Supporting flood resilience

The climate emergency is increasing the frequency and intensity of hydrometeorological impacts on the communities’ plan works with. These floods cause significant loss of infrastructure, livelihoods and assets which disproportionally affect vulnerable communities, women and girls.

When communities become flooded children may have restrictions on their ability to get to school, may not be able to access resources, may become ill due to waterborne diseases, or may not have the food and nutrition they need to survive. Through a partnership with Zurich Insurance, Plan International is working to generate evidence about the ways in which a given area or community are already resilient to floods, as well as providing a guide to further develop this resilience.

Plan staff looking at flood

Advocacy and research

Girl carrying water

Advocacy and research

Through research, program experience and working directly with girls, Plan International advocates for girls’ rights and inclusion in national and community-level climate change strategies. Check out our latest advocacy report: Girls’ Rights in Climate Strategies.

Ways you can support communities to adapt to climate change

Three boys planting a tree

Gifts of hope

Planted around the perimeter of school yards, these trees create a living fence for school children. They provide protection and shade, creating beautiful places to play and helping to make schools safer for thousands of girls and boys. Help a thriving, growing legacy take root.

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