Climate Change Impact on Adolescent Girls
UNICEF and Karama recognize that there is no child sensitive climate action without explicitly focusing on girls.
Climate change is not gender neutral, rather it amplifies already existing gender inequalities with the most marginalized communities experiencing the greatest impacts. For example:
- Girls’ household responsibilities and distance to school in increasingly harsh conditions challenges their access to learning. The lack of water and sanitation services may affect girls and adolescent girls’ reproductive health, with a potential negative impact on their psychosocial and well-being,
- In some contexts, risks associated with climate change exacerbate possibility of gender-based violence, including child marriage which is reported as a negative coping mechanism due to climate change induced economic insecurity. Indeed, the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, notes that gender-based violence is prevalent where there is both conflict and risk of experiencing extreme weather events, for example in Yemen.
- Climate change may also increase food insecurity thereby contributing to high anemia rates for adolescent girls.
In 2022, UNICEF in partnership with Karama and the Wa’ed Network of adolescent girls supported the development of a Technical Cohort to Advance Adolescent Girls and Young Women’s Leadership in Climate Change. The Technical Cohort consists of members Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and UAE, representing over 25 different girl-led community initiatives and organizations.
This Advocacy Brief is is developed through the Technical Cohort to Advance Adolescent Girls and Young Women’s Leadership in Climate Change, with support from Karama, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office Gender Section to amplify the key messages and recommendations from adolescent girls and young women across the region. We call upon key stakeholders to:
PROTECT GIRLS BY ADAPTING THE SOCIAL SERVICES THEY RELY ON
- Increase climate adaptation finance for social services and ensure girls’, adolescent girls’, and young women’s access to vital social services in health, nutrition, and education, by recognizing gendered considerations and barriers noted in this Brief.
- Prevent gender-based violence, including child marriage, in the context of climate change by increasing services for timely and confidential response. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls highlighted the relationship between climate change and increased gender-based violence, and calls for robust gender approaches to monitor and evaluate climate mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction policies.
- Set up measure to implement the CRC General Comment 26 guidance related to the right of all children to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as well as gender responsive education, environmental complaints mechanism and adaptation measures.
- Ensure girls’ gain skills for 21st century green jobs and climate platforms through adequate education including climate resilient education integrating indigenous and cultural knowledge, within the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This includes ensuring that any developed or adapted climate/environment/DRR curricula is gender-responsive with a specific gender module.
PREPARE GIRLS BY IMPROVING THEIR CAPACITIES AND ENSURING THEIR VOICES ARE HEARD
- Ensure girls’, adolescent girls’ and young women’s agency in climate change advocacy by amplifying their voices and opportunity to inform climate change policies in order to frame a gender equal just transition, including the NDC and NAP. COP28 and COY offers an opportunity for intentional participation by girls, adolescent girls and young women in climate decision making, for example through defining the Glasgow Work Programme on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE).
- Enable adolescent girls’ and young women’s leadership and active role to design community-based adaptation and mitigation responses, for example by aligning in intergenerational dialogue with women’s organisations, adapting indigenous technology and supporting peer-to-peer awareness raising and active engagement.
- Girls, adolescent girls and young women and their locally led organizations should be recognized as active participants in decision-making on loss and damage, including as agents and rights-holders in decision-making processes on loss and damage.
PRIORITIZE GIRLS IN CLIMATE FUNDING, POLICIES AND RESOURCE ALLOCATION
- Accelerate the Global Goal of Adaptation by promoting and scale-up female-led and gender responsive adaptation strategies, vital traditional knowledge and indigenous technologies and investing in strategies on sound water usage and fisheries management, traditional composting/recycling practices as well female land stewardship for reforestation and agriculture via planting native seeds.
- Ensure the Global Stocktake (GST) address the unique and heightened vulnerabilities of girls, adolescent girls and young women to climate change impacts and amplify the perspectives and solutions from girls-led organisations.
- Address intergenerational inequity via the development of the Loss and Damage facilities to unlock greater funds to protect marginalized and vulnerable girls, adolescent girls, and young women in MENA, in all their diversity, by addressing gendered unequal access to resources and decision-making.
- National climate change policies, including NAPs and NDC’s, should promote gender-responsive energy approaches to facilitate a Just Transition, including integrate women and girls’ experiences, expertise, decision making and meaningful participation for local governance.
- Expand and replicate girl-developed platforms and networks, such as the Wa’ed network, through programmes and policies to support community-based climate change strategies as well that tap young women and girl-led innovations via creating opportunities for young women to engage in private sector initiatives to address climate change, and a just energy transition, including in leadership positions.