Nigerian women and girls play a crucial role in the fight against climate change, and it is essential to make sure that this role is not only fully understood, but incorporated into national and state development plans.
From rising sea levels to drops in farming yields and urban floods, the impacts of climate change are being acutely felt by women. Women make up a large percentage of poor communities Nigeria that rely on natural resources for their livelihoods.
Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDeVNet) believes that the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals hold the potential to transform the lives of women and girls in Nigeria even though the challenges are daunting. The large-scale extraction of natural resources, climate change and environmental degradation across the country’s six geopolitical zones are advancing at an unprecedented pace, undermining the livelihoods of millions of women and men.
Successful action on climate change in Nigeria depends on the engagement of women as stakeholders and planners in ensuring that everyone has access to the resources they need to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
Examples of such involvement range from the role of women in building resilience against natural disasters to being key agents in supporting low-emissions development.
Although thousands of Nigerian women are gaining access to basic water and sanitation services across the country, progress has been uneven and some of the gains are increasingly fragile as water stress intensifies due to climate change in the Lake Chad region in the north-east, unsustainable consumption and intensified agricultural activity and land degradation in the south-east, south-south and south-west.
In Nigeria, food preparation is overwhelmingly done by women and this activity requires household energy. Across the country, women use cook stoves that rely on solid fuels such as biomass (wood, charcoal, agricultural residues and animal dung) and coal as their primary source.
The use of these dirty solid fuels contributes to harmful emissions of carbon dioxide and black carbon (soot), destructive agents that perpetuate climate change.
Indeed, women have a crucial role to play in supporting their families and communities and in implementing mechanisms to adapt to climate change and mitigate its negative impacts. And they require the help and support of all in this regard.
At Climate and Sustainable Development Network and the Nigerian Civil Society Framework for Paris Agreement and the SDGs (NCSFPAS), we have been leading from the front in adopting gender inclusive measures to tackle climate change as they include both male and female perspectives and sex disaggregated data in situation analysis for proper planning of climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.
Women’s knowledge in agroecology, agroforestry and renewable energies have been improved through different training programmes for adoption of sustainable agriculture, use of renewable energy and energy efficient cooking stoves that we have organised.
These have not only empowered them for improved livelihoods but also served to mitigate climate change to a large extent.
Nigerian women however, need more representation in decision-making at all levels with gender analysis of all budget lines and financial instruments in order to be able to implement innovative and sustainable responses and solutions to the environmental challenges that arise.
A Nigeria where equality reigns is a gender-enabled Nigeria. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate Nigerian women’s achievements.
Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender-equal Nigeria!
Let’s all be #EachforEqual.
Chair, Gender Working Group of the Nigerian Civil Society Framework on Paris Agreement and the SDGs