Plan International’s new report, Weathering the Storm: Adolescent Girls and Climate Change, calls for better integration of the needs of adolescent girls in climate change and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.
The findings presented in the report are based on interviews with girls involved in Plan International’s programmes in Ethiopia and Bangladesh. We were particularly keen to learn from girls themselves how climate change is impacting their lives, and what they think policy makers should do differently.
The impacts of climate change – whether they are gradual changes in weather patterns aggravating chronic drought and food security, or the more rapid onset emergencies such as cyclones and floods – are different for different populations. While inevitably children everywhere are badly affected, the report illustrates how girls, in particular, are bearing the greatest burden. The report evidences how increased climate stress is exposing a growing number of adolescent girls to very specific risks:
- More girls and women are dying during disasters;
- An increasing number are enduring early and forced marriages; and
- More girls are being exposed to sexual violence and the curtailment of their education.
It also emphasises the gap in adaptation policy and funding to address the adaptation costs being borne by adolescent girls. The girls themselves were clear on where they felt that policy priorities should be targeted. They want:
- greater access to quality education where they can learn skills to improve their adaptive capacity;
- greater protection from violence, especially early forced marriage, sexual violence and forced labour; and
- they want their concerns to be heard and acted upon by policy makers.