Family planning

Gender equality, family planning missing from U.S. city climate plans: Report

American women and people of diverse gender identities are disproportionately affected by climate change, but city climate plans fail to address family planning or gender equity solutions, a new report found.

The report, released by the Center for Biological Diversity on Tuesday, looked at 21 climate plans in cities across the country, whose total population represents about 10% of the U.S. population. The authors found that none of the plans included family planning, contraception or reproductive health solutions and only one city – Boston – referred to gender equity as a climate change mitigation strategy. .

“Societies are more resilient when governments invest in women and girls,” Center for Biological Diversity activist Kelley Dennings, said in a press release.

“Women’s empowerment solutions to climate change risks, such as sexual and reproductive health, benefit people and the planet,” she continued. “Population pressure makes it even more difficult to meet emission reduction targets and recover from climate-related disasters.”

While the climate plans all included a range of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in areas such as energy, housing and transport, they consistently failed to address gender equity initiatives. gender and empowerment, according to the report.

But such initiatives are critical solutions to climate change, the authors argued, citing the nonprofit Project Drawdown, which found that better health outcomes for women can build communities’ capacities to adapt to change. climatic.

Because women lose their jobs more often than men due to natural disasters and are also more likely to be caregivers, they are less flexible in protecting themselves and reacting to extreme weather events, according to the report.

The inclusion of women’s empowerment efforts in climate plans is by no means unprecedented, according to the study. The first internationally recognized “gender climate action plan” was adopted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-23) in 2017, the authors said.

The UN Action Plan has identified how women face greater risks when it comes to the impacts of climate change, but are also equipped with unique tools to contribute to mitigation and adaptation efforts, according to the report.

Given that 45% of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, providing comprehensive reproductive health care would allow policymakers to empower women to determine whether they want to have children, the authors explained. This ability to choose “then makes the planet a more sustainable place for those who are already there,” they argued.

The authors also cited the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which called climate change “an urgent women’s health issue.”

The cities included in the assessments were Albuquerque, NM; Atlanta; Austin, TX; Boston; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Washington D.C.; Houston; Kansas City, MO; Lincoln, Neb. ; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New York; Newton, Massachusetts; Philadelphia Cream; Phoenix; Portland, Oregon; San Antonio and Seattle.

The years their climate plans were written ranged from 2008 for Kansas City to 2021 for Albuquerque and Lincoln.

The only city to mention specific gender-based activities that could help fight climate change is Boston, which offers a “Women Bike” program “for Boston residents who identify as female or gender non-conforming,” according to the 2019 city report. climate plan.

Researchers from the Center for Biological Diversity described Boston’s bicycle program as “a prime example of a climate solution that sits at the intersection of public health and public transportation.”

They, however, called on other cities to include such gender-responsive strategies and solutions in their climate plans, emphasizing that this will “bring long-term benefits to people, wildlife and the planet.”

“Women, girls and people of diverse gender identities are more affected by the climate emergency than men, so it’s crucial that climate change solutions include them,” Dennings said.

“Reducing population pressure by providing comprehensive, convenient and affordable reproductive health care, including abortion, is essential to mitigating the long-term effects of climate change and strengthening conservation,” she added.