Rahming: Adaptive measures with a gender lens are vital in responding to present day climate risks

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Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Lisa Rahming (at podium) addressing Tuesday’s International Women’s Day/Social Workers Month Joint Forum held at the Harry C. Moore Library, University of The Bahamas, University Drive, in observance of the United Nations International Women’s Day, 2022. (BIS Photo/Mark Ford)

Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Lisa Rahming, Tuesday challenged women attending an International Women’s Day (IWD) event to “commit to being advocates for necessary climate change, mitigation and adaptation policies and programmes.”

The State-Minister also took the opportunity to publicly recognize those women whom she said: “have worked and made contributions in the area of climate change and environmental and disaster risk reduction.”

State-Minister Rahming, who has responsibility for Gender and Family Affairs among her other portfolio duties, said adaptation to climate change requires effective policies and programmes that include mitigation and adaptation strategies: “both of which are necessary for us as a government to respond adequately to environmental, catastrophic and extreme weather events.”

“Moreover, adaptive measures with a gender lens are vital to assist in effectively responding to present-day climate risks. The objectives for this year are crucial for achieving gender equality in the context of climate change and environmental and disaster risk reduction. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future and an equal future remain beyond our reach.”

Addressing a combined International Women’s Day and Social Workers Forum held at the Harry C. Moore Library, University of The Bahamas’ University Drive Campus, (the United Nations theme for International Women’s Day, 2022 was: “Gender Equality today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”), State-Minister Rahming told female participants attending In- person or via ZOOM that, as women, each of them has a role to play in ensuring that women have a sustainable future in The Bahamas. (The audiences also included males representing governmental and non- governmental organizations.)

“This is absolutely no offense to the men,” Mrs. Rahming said. “Let us rise to the occasion. We are always elated to hear women are doing this, women have done that, but very rarely, you will hear that women are concerned about climate change. It should concern every one of us. Climate Change is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st Century.

We have been told that as a Small-Island Developing State (SIDS), The Bahamas is uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. These impacts include rising sea levels and increased greenhouse gas emissions and if you live in The Bahamas you should be concerned with climate change.

State-Minister Rahming said a 2017 Study conducted by Bahamian environmentalists Drs. Adele Thomas and Lisa Benjamin surveyed over 500 Bahamian residents to determine their familiarity with the issues of climate change. The majority of the respondents, the State-Minister said, were females between the ages of 18-30. “They focused with specifics on the impacts on The Bahamas and the perceived level of risk on those impacts.”

Mrs. Rahming said the Study provides analysis of how climate change is perceived “by this subset of population and potential links with how these perceptions could guide policy making and risk communication strategies.”

“The study contributed to an understanding of the needs for localized data and public education in climate change matters. Storm surges from rising sea levels and the increase in the intensity of hurricanes are proof of the negative impacts of climate change.

“Just two short years ago, Category 5 Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc on our country. Dorian was the worst hurricane on record that struck the northern Bahama-land of Grand Bahama, Abaco and the surrounding cays. Approximately 5,000 persons were displaced including women and girls. The budget of the Department of Social Services was expanded to accommodate the increased number of clients. The budget allocation for the Department of social Services had a 65 per cent increase for the period of 2020-2021 compared with 2019 and 2020. Women, including teen mothers are largely the beneficiaries of our social services programme.

“The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day for 2022: “Gender Equality today for a Sustainable Tomorrow” is a timely one. As a
people, our resilience to climate change must begin with our knowledge level of the subject. How knowledgeable are we about climate change and its effects. As the Minister of State, I particularly wish to recognize those women who have worked and made contributions in the area of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction,” Mrs. Rahming added.