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Climate interventions only help women when they have a seat at the table

 Communication and Advocacy Officer at Kisumu Medical and Education Trust, Cindy Aketch. [Courtesy]

Over the period that different parts of the world have been experiencing the many effects that come with climate change, world leaders have taken various actions in response.

Climate change significantly impacts the daily lives of women and girls in Kenya. The effects of climate change worsen the existing challenges they face including food insecurity, poor health, limited access to education, and inadequate access to clean water and sanitation.

Over the past two years, just like many other parts of the country, Kisumu County has witnessed a longer drought period than usual. This has forced school-going girls and young married women to walk long distances in search of water for domestic use.

During this time, we have seen a high number of sexual violence cases reported, especially against adolescent girls who were violated on their way from fetching water. In addition, their study schedules are affected as most of them have to either wake up early to fetch water or leave school earlier than expected.

I spoke with Atieno (not her real name) who was sexually assaulted by a man she can't identify to date. This happened when she was from fetching food for her siblings. Atieno who hails from Muhoroni Sub County in Kisumu County is the firstborn in a family of four. She heads the family after the death of their parents as their grandparents are unable to provide for them. Atieno's daily routine represents many other girls who have not yet come out to speak about what they experience.

Kisumu is lucky to be one of the counties with the highest number of NGOs and community-based organisations working to ensure girls' and women's rights are upheld.

These organisations have been addressing the information gap and helping women make decisions just like the men do. This has seen a number of women participating in climate change adaptation planning and even being part of the mitigation strategies laid out by the government.

The historic Paris Agreement sought to give countries opportunities to strengthen retaliation to the threat of climate change by keeping global commitments. In response, the Kisumu County Governor recently appointed a woman to lead the Gender department.

We hope this will impact positively by having more women sitting at the climate change mitigation tables. In addition, it will give equal access to resources that address the major issues faced by women in relation to climate change in Kisumu County.

Addressing these impacts requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account the specific needs and priorities of women and girls and ensures that they are included in decision-making tables.

- The writer is Communication and Advocacy Officer at Kisumu Medical and Education Trust. Send your contributions to [email protected]

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