05 October 2023

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.
28 November 2021

Situational Analysis of Women and Girls in the Middle East and North Africa

The Situation of Women and Girls in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the Arab States region remains unresolved. Incremental progress has been documented, yet the pace is slow and does not reflect the commitments made to the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, nor to address the challenges of the region. As will be discussed, some progress related to gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment in several domains over the past decade has been witnessed. Within the region, laws, policies, and programming focused on gender equality are growing, women’s representation in government and in national programming has increased, and many countries have established national women’s machineries and other institutions that promote the rights and welfare of women and girls. Areas such as education and health have seen significant improvement in gender-related indices, and specialized programming aimed at supporting women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment have accelerated in many countries in the region. While governments have significantly stepped up efforts to ensure that they meet their gender-based human rights obligations, it is also necessary to highlight the increasing engagement of civil society, particularly women’s and youth feminist civil society, in advocating for and securing gains. Women’s civil society in the region has actively engaged with the Women Peace and Security agenda at the international level, for example, activists have testified in front of the Security Council to highlight the gender impact of conflict and occupation on the lives of women and girls in the region. Yet, in the midst of these gains, gender gaps in the region persist and part of recent progress is at risk of regress. These gaps are augmented by the unanswered intersectional concerns of women and girls, and are further compounded by global and regional events, including political and economic upheaval, conflict, occupation, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing backlash from governments towards civil society since the Arab uprisings over a decade ago, especially towards women’s rights and youth feminist groups, has also impeded progress. Conflict is another factor that perpetuates gender inequalities and human right violations in the some countries of the region. Furthermore, the staunch patriarchal character of governments continues to impact the movement towards gender equality which, in turn, reinforces the structural inequities present in negative socio-cultural norms and practices through laws, justice mechanisms and socio-political institutions. Many States in the region still allow such norms and practices to restrict the rights of females relative to males, and limit access for women and girls to targeted education regarding their rights and other substantive empowerment initiatives. Taken as a whole and despite the gains made, the evidence detailed throughout this report illustrates that the MENA and the Arab States region has made the slowest progress on gender equality across multiple indicators and indices. Throughout the report, the lack of data in many of the areas of concern is highlighted and the need to enhance data collection and evidence generation in these areas is stressed. Drawing from evidence gathered, the following highlights some of the common gaps that governments in the MENA and Arab States region need to explicitly address in order to ensure gender equality, the empowerment of women and meet their human rights obligations towards women and girls: *Now available (Report " Arabic and English", Executive summary, Pilar 1, 2, 3, and 4).