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Helping Pacific island women speak up on climate change by Thin Lei Win April 23,2012   |  Source: AlertNet

In the male-dominated culture of the Pacific islands to the north and east of Australia, women’s voices are rarely heard. Men make the decisions and women tend to the children and prepare food.

Yet most predictions say it is women and children who will suffer the most from the impacts of climate change.

Coastal communities living in Melanesia, which includes the Solomons, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu, are already facing rises in sea levels which could affect their livelihoods, food security and ultimately lead to their permanent displacement.

As homemakers responsible for the family’s welfare, it is women who are at the frontline in responding to changes in the availability of food and water.

But in such highly patriarchal societies, how can their voices be heard and included in decision-making?

The answer lies not in singling women out to empower them – which could create a backlash – but in being inclusive and allowing everyone to participate, said Annisah Sapul of The Nature Conservancy, a U.S.-based conservation organisation.

“We went into the communities recognising that we have sensitive issues about power within the community structure,” she told AlertNet at the sixth International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate


© 2012 Thomson Reuters Foundation

Theme(s): Communities and Organisations.

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