Training course to forge links between gender and climate change adaptation
From 29 July to 7 August 2013, a training course entitled ‘Gender Community Based and Meteorological Early Warning on Climate Change Adaptation’ was held at the Faculty of Science in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. With the objective of exchanging knowledge and building the capacity of participants in linking climate change adaptation with gender, it was organised by the Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Centre for Knowledge Management and Climate. Participants included government officers from Myanmar and Cambodia, whose everyday work relates to the environment.
The overall aim of the course was to build the capacity and develop the understanding of officers from the two participating countries Myanmar and Cambodia; particularly for making active connections between gender and climate change adaptation. The training session encompassed a series of informative lectures delivered by senior Thai government officials and advisors, academics in the field of climate change, as well as those given by the Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) Thailand in relation to mainstreaming gender in climate change adaptation planning.
“Climate change is not a regional phenomenon. Its impacts are being felt in even the remotest parts of our countries. If local people - including women - know and understand the importance of climate change adaptation, it can save lives and decrease poverty of those living in vulnerable areas,” said Dr Somchai Baimoung, Inspector General of Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
As part of the course, participants also attended a three-day field visit with SDF to Chanthaburi and Trat Provinces in Thailand. These are project sites of EU-funded Building Resilience to Climate Change Impacts in Coastal Southeast Asia implemented in collaboration between IUCN and SDF in Thailand.
“SDF works creatively to find solutions to community problems and actively engages in capacity-building of the villagers. This is part of an ongoing process to exchange ideas with the community and build long-lasting relationships with them. Climate change impacts everyone and everything. There is a particularly pressing need to mainstream gender in climate change adaptation plans, because women are more vulnerable to climate change than men. Gender is not just a women’s issue; it is a human issue that concerns us all,” said Ravadee Prasertcharoensuk, Director of SDF.
During the visits to the field, participants saw examples of how local people are actively adapting to climatic changes, using shrimp-farming and crab banks, amongst other community-led initiatives. Interacting with village heads, local fisherfolk and farmers provided an invaluable view of climatic realities and challenges faced at grassroots-level. At the two project sites, women-led adaptation initiatives were a key focus. Participants had the unique opportunity to meet and talk with women’s associations and their leaders in order learn more about their increasing involvement in the community. The village women’s livelihood diversification activities, such as the production of sustainable seafood-based products and snacks, actively highlighted their innovative entrepreneurial spirit.
The visits to the field acted as vital complements to classroom concepts, as they helped in linking theory to the real world. Interactions with community members and understanding locally-led adaptation initiatives to climate change were useful experiences.
Khin Thuza, Officer from Myanmar’s Ministry of Social Welfare added “during the field visits, I observed that women have equal opportunities and access to resources. They share responsibilities with the men of the village. Women also play an active role in participating in the community’s governance and activities. Before this course, I had limited knowledge on the connections between gender and climate change. I value the new understanding I have after training.”
The training course aimed to provide an understanding of climate change adaptation and gender, through exchanging experiences and ideas at regional-level. With the field sites serving as living case studies, participants were able to discuss how to transfer and apply the new knowledge in their respective countries.
“After attending the training sessions, I realise that awareness on gender-related issues is needed at commune-level in my home country. Usually speaking, women take care of the home and men support the family. But after this course I understand women are more vulnerable and sensitive to impacts of climate change. This is why gender needs to be mainstreamed in future adaptation plans. The active participation and involvement of women in communities is essential for making this possible,” said Seiha Chunn, Vice Chief Office of Vulnerability, Assessment and Adaptation, Climate Change Department, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia.
A collective realisation following the training course was that gender is a structural issue, and its links with climate change adaptation need to be addressed in all contexts; ranging from the village and district to the national level. This can be a way to ensure policy is translated into concerted action.
By Ria Sen