Women & Environment

Women & Environment

The World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002, confirmed the need for gender analysis, gender specific data and gender mainstreaming in all sustainable development efforts, and the recognition of women’s land rights. The summit Declaration stated: “We are committed to ensuring that women’s empowerment, emancipation and gender equality are integrated in all the activities encompassed within Agenda 21, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Plan of Implementation of the Summit.” Today United Nations recognizes that Gender Equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. In most communities, women are primarily responsible for food production, household water supply and energy for heating and cooking. With the radically changing climate scenario and environmental degradation, these tasks are becoming increasingly difficult. Additionally, women are often faced with critical challenges concerning accessibility of financial resources, capacity-building activities and technologies. Even today, the underrepresentation of women as decision makers on climate change at all levels severely limit their ability to contribute solutions and apply their expertise, this is especially true in case of developing countries. Therefore, it has become imperative to include women in planning and implementation of all environmental policies. Empowering and mainstreaming them into climate action is a significant goal towards mitigating climate change impacts and creating a sustainable future.

It is a priority area of SAFE to ensure gender equity and climate justice for women in all interventions including capacity building and financial inclusions. SAFE is promoting women farmers clubs, joint liability groups; self help groups, and women federations for encouraging entrepreneurial leadership and inclusive growth of women facing brunt of climate change.

Through SAFE’s ‘Resolve Trash to Cash' program which is a real life case study of empowering women street dwellers of Kolkata metropolis, launched in 2011, underprivileged and informal women waste pickers are trained to recycle waste into eco friendly micro-utility handcrafted products. At present, RT2C is a micro enterprise registered as an MSME under Government of India, also a revenue linked model which helps support the monthly stipend of communities involved & in the sustenance of this green initiative. Awarded UNFCCC Light house Activity Award, this endeavour empowers women not just to earn their bread but to work safely & earn the dignity of a mother who rears her children for a better tomorrow.

SAFE’s interventions on Water and Sanitation are making WHO certified safe drinking water with the power of renewable energy available to a large section of the marginal communities living in critically water scarce areas of West Bengal and North east in India at present. This endeavour is especially benefitting the women who no longer have to travel for hours to fetch water or defecate in the open due to lack of sanitation related awareness and facilities. In addition the joint liability groups formed to help sustain the units are led by women as decision makers and the beneficiary households are also registered under their women members. SAFE’s efforts in WASH sector have been recognized by UN and awarded the ‘Best Practice in Water and Sanitation’, in the year 2015.

Innovative strategies to develop and advance gender friendly Climate Smart Agriculture technologies and tools for farmers and fishers, has been a substantial part of SAFE’s interventions in both rural and urban areas of South Asia. This initiative has helped in the formation of many farmer’s federations and fishers groups, thereby strengthening and fostering inclusive growth of women communities to prepare and combat the impending climate change impacts.