CAIRO: A “Feminists for Climate” initiative is setting out to educate Egyptians about the effects of climate change on women in general and Egyptian women in particular.
The initiative’s founder, Marihan Fouad, said: “Women are the weakest and most vulnerable group, and the issue of climate change and its consequences is what increases their vulnerability and problems. The goal of the initiative is to raise awareness of that.”
Fouad, a pharmacy graduate, added: “Choosing the idea of climate change to raise awareness about it and its impact on women has a personal dimension. I am from the delta region (north of Cairo), and most of the women here work first in agriculture, either on land owned by their families or even by working for others, which makes them bear climate change’s consequences the most.”
Studies show that the delta will be among the most affected regions in the future, “and its effect has already appeared on some crops recently,” she said.
“It is true that all humans will be affected, but not all in the same way, as it varies from one individual and one social type to another, so women are the group that bears most of its consequences.”
Samira Rashwan, an official at the National Council for Women, told Arab News: “The state is aware that women are most affected by environmental issues and climate change, and the resulting emissions that cause natural disasters, and this has many reasons.
“They often cannot easily access all the resources that enhance their ability to confront climate change crises. Rather, there are many obstacles including the lack of technology and specialized education that enables women to easily understand the dimensions of the crisis, in addition to the fact that the empowerment of women has not yet reached what is hoped for and the high illiteracy rate is not only regional but also global.”
Rashwan said that the effects of climate change on the female population include an increase in violence against women, a rise in early marriages, and a slowing of women’s empowerment.
“They are hit economically, as women in many societies depend on natural resources to secure living and food for themselves and their children. Climate change affects these resources and leads to their scarcity, whether it is agricultural land, rivers or sea coasts.
“The most important impact from my point of view is on women’s health, especially reproductive health, which is weak in general,” Rashwan said.
Other efforts focusing on the effect of climate on Egyptian women include an online campaign launched by Jihad, who told Arab News that it seeks to “stop the use of any tools or vehicles that contribute to an increase in carbon dioxide levels, and to bury any materials made of plastic because they are non-biodegradable.”
Jihad added: “I work on distributing paper bags to those around me and some citizens for free to draw their attention to the importance of climate change, while inviting them to read about it, and I hope that I will succeed in that.”