Johannesburg, 26 May 2022 Climate justice will not become a reality unless sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), which are crucial to achieving gender equality, are placed at the centre of adaptation responses to climate change.
UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, responds to the climate crisis by working to reduce inequalities and increase resilience. The crisis has a disproportionate impact on the lives of women and girls, and to better understand this effect, UNFPA in collaboration with Queen Mary University undertook a scoping review of linkages between climate change and SRHR outcomes.
The findings show that changes to the environment have profound implications for women's and girl's bodily autonomy. The review confirmed that climate change negatively impacts almost all SRHR outcomes and leaves vulnerable women and girls at higher risk of being left behind.
"We know that when women and girls can take control of their bodies and lives, it strengthens their ability to adapt to and weather the impacts of the climate crisis. They must have agency in making their own sexual and reproductive health choices, which stems first and foremost from having access to quality services, information and supplies," said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Director, in a statement on World Health Day.
When crises exacerbate child marriage
A review of the evidence on the links between the climate crisis and child marriage shows that environmental crises worsen known drivers of child marriage, including loss of resources like assets and income, disruption to schooling and displacement of communities. Many of the areas with the highest rates of child marriage are facing the greatest impact of climate change and other environmental crises.
Climate change causes shocks to livelihoods that can lead to child marriage as a coping mechanism and a means to secure the family's economic future. In the aftermath of environmental crises, increases in conflict and violence, including sexual violence, are common. This may result in child marriage, as families seek to protect their daughters and their 'family honour'.
Climate justice can be further achieved through upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights, which means taking action on child marriage. UNFPA calls for action to build resilience, and tackle the complex issues of rights, health and justice, to ensure sustainable development where no one - especially girls - are left behind.
UNFPA media contact in Johannesburg:
Daisy Leoncio, email@example.com, +1 347 491-9154
UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. UNFPA's mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, quality maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education.
For more details, view UNFPA's newly launched publication, Child Marriage and the Environmental Crisis: An Evidence Brief. This brief was developed concurrently with additional publications, including a set of infographics elaborating on the relationship between climate change and the Transformative Results: