The Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) in partnership with Business for Peace Community Development Foundation (B4P) hosted its second edition of the Liberia-Diaspora Women and Youth Forum (LDWYF) on the theme: “From Global to Local: Women, Climate Change and the Environment; the Case of Liberia and the Diaspora” in commemoration of the sixty-sixth session of the commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), which annually brings together world leaders from the United Nations, member states, civil society actors as well as the donor and business communities.
The Forum was held virtually with the overall goal of fostering dialogue and providing Liberian women and youth the opportunity to learn, continue to amplify their voices, and enhance their advocacy and leadership potential wherever they find themselves. Women and young people of other nationalities, as well as immigrants
Communities were also invited to enrich the discussions. For the first time last year, and due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CSW was held virtually.
The LDWYF was approved as one of the international parallel events hosted by the NGO CSW Forum, which provides a bigger platform and opportunity for civil society actors to dialogue and influence decision-making processes held at the level of the United Nations and its member states.
Serving as panelists for the side-event were Madam Loretta Pope-Kai, Chairperson, National Civil Society Council of Liberia; Madam Naomi Tulay Solanke, Founder and Executive Director of Community Healthcare Initiatives; Madam Miatta Darwolor Thomas, Founder and Executive Director of Sister Aid Liberia Inc.; Madam Siatta Scott Johnson, President of the Female Journalist Association of Liberia; and Madam Musu Barto.
Ms. Ghorma Karloweah, Acting Head of Programs, UN Women Liberia stated that UN Women, the UN entity responsible for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and a partner of the Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), is elated to participate in this auspicious dialogue and share special remarks.
She said that they recognized our courage, resilience, leadership and collective progress towards a more gender-equal world, adding that, like that day, at the Commemoration of the program, they focused on climate change and the environment with the pledge to break the bias.
Although we are still celebrating women’s month, the marginalization of women and
The girls persist. In the past two years, we have seen increasing inequalities due to the, She stated.
Additionally, global crises like the recent happenings in Ukraine have reinforced what Liberian women already knew and experienced: women endure the worst during war.
Ms. Karloweah indicated that in Liberia, like the rest of the world, the accelerating crises of climate change and environmental degradation are disproportionately undermining the wellbeing of women and girls.
She noted that the rise in sea level, the change in rainfall patterns and coastal erosion are affecting several sources of livelihood for women.
Ms. Karloweah stressed that the coastline has been a major boon for agriculture and fishing activities, which women rely heavily on.
She added that, unfortunately, sex-disaggregated data on climate change impacts is not available, which makes it even more difficult to respond adequately to the differential needs of women and men.
She noted that understanding the different impacts of climate change on men and women, as well as their participation in both mitigation and adaptation strategies, is critical since Liberian women are highly vulnerable to environmental hazards, particularly water stress.
Speaking further, she said that another important factor increasing Liberia’s vulnerability to climate change is the fragility of state institutions, as well as the lack of financial resources to adapt and respond to climate change. However, we recognize the government’s efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and prevent and respond to future risk.
“Let me suggest a few actions for stakeholders both at home and abroad. Promote open dialogue with community leaders and members of coastal communities to raise awareness of ensuing risks,” Ms. Karloweah noted.
She said that this will also give us the opportunity to understand differential needs and concerns regarding coastal adaptation, considering that communities may feel threatened by some adaptation measures because their homes are often the most significant material and financial asset they possess.
She, however, calls for the integration of a gender perspective into such dialogues, considering that men and women in these zones face different barriers and have differentiated needs.
According to her, the increase in women’s participation in the formal sector, through a planned and structured transition away from the informal sector, and investment in overall education and TVET-specific activities, to minimize women’s vulnerability to climate change shocks
She also calls for target investments and increased sex-disaggregated data collection processes that seek to identify the differentiated impacts of climate change on men and women, as well as their inclusion in climate change mitigation and adaptation decision-making processes.
Ms. Karloweah then sounded a call for us all to live up to the resolve in the 2030 Agenda “to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources.”
Also speaking, Ms. Aisha Lai, Head of Office, at Kvinna till Kvinna noted that towards a feminist peace in a changing climate, the inter-linkage of environmental degradation and climate change (ECC) with gender-based violence (GBV), economic gender equality, peace building, and equal participation in her organization, Kvinna till Kvinna, recognizes the urgency to address the global threat of climate change and environmental degradation to gain a feminist peace.
She said that this can be done by interlinking ECC to what we already work with: GBV, economic gender equality, peace building, and equal participation.
She told the gathering that to achieve a feminist peace, they need to find a balance between humans and the environment, and subsequently, they should also make a holistic analysis that reflects the connections between how we as humans act and how it impacts the environment, which in turn impacts human lives.
According to her, gender inequality, unequal economic structures, state fragility, and climate vulnerability go hand in hand. Existing intersectional discrimination is exacerbated by the large number of ECC-related emergencies affecting marginalized women disproportionately.4
Torching on Interlinking Peace Building and ECC and Why? Ms. Aisha Lai noted that environmental degradation and climate change alter ecosystems and patterns of weather, which leads to a loss of biodiversity (animals and plants).
She added that extreme weather leads to destabilization and emerging conflict, or risks being a driver of one.