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Warsaw: Resilience of Women Key To Climate Change Adaptation

Iceland's Director of International and Security Affairs Anna Pala Sverrisdottir glowed in the spotlight Tuesday morning as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced her country ranked number one out of 72 countries in the first-ever Environment and Gender Index.

“The EGI is the first index of its kind, bringing together measurements of gender and environmental governance; 72 countries have been rated for six different variables, with each one of its indicators,” explained Lorena Aguilar, IUCN senior gender adviser.

The Index also gave top honors to Norway and the Netherlands, delegating the United States to 14th place. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Mauritania were the lowest on the Index.

The event launched Gender Day at the UNFCCC COP19 in Warsaw.

While Dr. Seema Aror Jonsson, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Scientists, suggested at Saturday's Global Landscape Forum that “it’s much easier for us to make gender an issue of poverty than to view issues of gender as one that spreads across caste and class,” the resilience of women in global efforts to adapt to climate change can not be underestimated, considering the fact that women hold up half the sky and the fact that 50% of the world's food supply is dependent of the ability of women farmers.

Mozambique's Deputy Minister of the Environment Ana Chichava detailed the success of her country in incorporating gender specific climate change resilience tools to deal with conditions which establish Mozambique as one of the world's most vulnerable countries due to its geography, economy and topography.

Chichava says her country is successfully addressing adaptation to climate change by engaging women in numerous projects.

Ranked highest on the Index for the number of women delegate representatives at the 2012 Convention on Biological Diversity at COP11, Chicava noted that Mozambique was the first country to establish "a national climate change and gender action plan."

In Mozambique, women operate Ambulance bicycle companies, a vital service in a country where climate change contributes to increasingly severe weather.

Operations on the ground in her country engage women in operating coastal early warning networks; managing the distribution of climate change health kits containing herbs and remedies from native healers; and owning and operating “bicycle ambulances” to handle emergencies during disasters.

According to the 2013 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report, Mozambique ranks as the third best country in Africa in terms of gender equity, behind Lesotho and South Africa.

With a vital agricultural economy, over half of country's residents live along the coast, supported by rain-fed crops and fishing, Mozambique is highly vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise and extreme typhoons. Just this January, hundreds of thousands were displaced in the worst flooding since 2000. The country is one of the most vulnerable on the international climate change vulnerability monitor.

Chart depicting measurables of the newly released Environment and Gender Index.

United Nations Development Program's Lucy Wanjiru Njagi discusses the importance of utilizing the indigenous knowledge of women, who work in roles which afford them intimate connections with the environment in informing decisions relative to climate change. At http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK8Se-b4NG4.

Editorial Notes: A different version of this article appeared on The Daily Kos.

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