news Tuesday, June 09, 2015 - 05:30
  In what may be a first, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board has looked at effects of climate on women and incorporated their views in its action plan on tackling climate change. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board’s report “Recommendations to State Action Plan on Climate Change” has a section titled “Women’s Perspective”, which is based on consultations with women and women’s groups in Bengaluru and Mysuru in April. Participants urged that such consultations be held at the taluk level and pointed out that women had no say in the state level discourse on policy initiatives. The report notes that women in general, and poor and marginalised women in particular, are the “worst sufferers of climate change impacts”, and can also be “critical change agents” in implementing solutions. The report also suggests that India’s national and state-level adaption policies “need to not only target women but also make them equal partners for adaptation to be successful on the ground.” The recommendations are detailed under various sub-heads: urbanisation, education, agriculture and horticulture, transport, coastal ecology, awareness programme and traditional knowledge, forestry and biodiversity, energy, air quality, waste management, water and sanitation. The report says that women and girls often spend 10-20 hours a week collecting water and fuel, due to which they have less time to fulfill “domestic responsibilities, earn money, engage in politics or other public activities, learn to read or acquire other skills, or simply rest”. This situation also has the potential for sexual exploitation. It adds that girls are often deliberately kept at home, away from school for this purpose, “further leading to the continuation of the cycle of disempowerment”. In the sub-head on energy, the report says: “Women not in policy-making and decision making levels”. Referring to inadequate access to information, as mobile phone and radios are often with men, the report observed that self-help groups (SHGs) generally do not have safety network for selling their products as their market is very limited. In case of extreme weather conditions or droughts in the village their products can be without any buyers, the report says. The report also recognises that while women do 60-80% of the work to produce food, they do not own any farm land. Under transport, the report says that the ability of women and girls to access education and employment “gets very limited if secured transport system is not adopted”. Among the organisations which made submissions to the board, is Bengaluru-based Public Affairs Centre (PAC). The group has urged the government to collect micro-level data by counting women separately.  The report has listed numerous recommendations made by women, but says that many of these were of a general nature. However, a look at the document submitted by PAC, suggests that some pertinent observations were not included in the final report by the board, such as the link between natural disasters and its effects on women. There has been some scientific research to suggest that climate change is linked with natural disasters. The PAC has separately listed the impacts of certain climate change effects on men and women. It observes that when natural disasters occur, the search for water and fuel takes longer, when food production is low, it is women who eat less as the men are automatically identified as the first priority. The report had come in for much criticism after it became known that it had made some bizarre recommendations to rein in pollution in the state. However, it may well be one of the rare reports to factor in women’s perspective on climate change. On Tuesday, Bangalore Mirror reported some of the bizarre suggestions that the KSPCB had come up with to counter air pollution, including holding a vedic ritual that would supposedly include air quality. The board has maintained that it included all suggestions from citizens, but that it was for the government to decide. The report has recommended banning cars that give mileage less than 20 km for a litre of petrol/diesel. The KPCB wants pubs and bars to be shut at 10 pm and rationing of sale of fuel to 100 litres per month per car.  

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