25.11.2016 -

Climate change is a threat multiplier for women and girls

On occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2016, UNESCO’s Division for Gender Equality set up an Orange Zone at Headquarters and conducted a rich social media campaign, successfully drawing attention to the effects of climate change in exacerbating violence against women and girls: a key theme for this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women campaign.

The focus was quite timely as leaders met at COP22 and the Paris Agreement entered into force. While climate change is rarely discussed in relation to violence against women, the exacerbating links between the two are very present.

Women heavily rely on natural resources for their livelihoods – they are the primary collectors, users and managers of water and fuel. As temperatures rise, the increasing scarcity of natural resources lengthens women’s search for natural resources up to 8 hours a day, and climate-induced natural disasters strips women of their safety nets as they migrate away from their communities. As a result, women become increasingly vulnerable to and affected by violence, abuse and exploitation.

A successful social media campaign was conducted during the week leading to 25 November, bringing the public together to test their knowledge on the subject via a short quiz. Four visually striking factographs were released, highlighting the links between climate change and violence against women. Over 1,200 people participated in the quiz. The campaign disseminated via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram reached over 758,000 people around the world.

On 25 November, an Orange Zone was established at HQ to raise awareness on the impact of climate change on violence against women and girls. Throughout the day, badges, informative postcards, posters and UNESCO publications were made available to all staff and visitors. Orange – the official United Nations color for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – symbolizes non-violence and a bright future for women, free of violence.

Broadcasting live from the Orange Zone via Facebook Live, Saniye Gülser Corat, Director of the Division of Gender Equality of UNESCO, and George Papagiannis, Chief of Media Services, discussed the significance of this Day as the UNESCO Globe was lit in orange. Ms. Corat highlighted the importance of raising awareness on violence against women in the context of climate change, noting the myriad of ways in which climate change disproportionately affects women, whether via natural disasters or climate-induced displacement causing heightened sexual trafficking, or the search for water and firewood resulting in increased rapes. Over 1,300 people have watched the video.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was designated by UN Resolution 54/134 in 1999 to raise public awareness on the problem of violence against women. The social campaign continues throughout the 16 Days of Activism (25 Nov – 10 Dec), during which photos of participating staff from Headquarters and the Field offices will be released.

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