Gender-Based Violence and Climate Change

Does climate change and gender based violence linked? Find out by reading!

How does global climate change link with gender-based violence?

It may sound odd that both topics are related, but yes, there is a relation, and it is influencing girls’ and women’s well-being particularly, since the effects of climate change are occurring rapidly. 

Over the past years, the topic of climate change has been one of the top discussions at international summits and the core work of government institutions and non-profit organizations. climate change is defined, according to the United Nations, as the “long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns”. The shifts can be natural or caused by human actions such as burning fossil fuels like oil, coal, and gas. The constant burning of fossil fuels creates a blanket that covers the Earth, causing the sun’s heat to stay inside, and that is the reason why the temperature rises. Moreover, climate change can affect

food systems, eco-systems, natural resources, socio-economic systems, human health and welfare, and it’s increasingly a driver of conflict and displacement

Gender-Based violence and Climate Changes conducted by Iris Consortium of Gender Based Violence, March 2022. 

according to the study Women and girls are the primary providers of food and water in their communities around the globe. Climate change is igniting those resources, such as water to be scarcer; natural disasters to occur more often and severely, and direct violence toward environmental human rights defenders. All of this affects the livelihood of the communities and exposes women and girls to gender-based violence, such as being forced into marriage, sexual exploitation and abuse, domestic violence, and other ways of gender-based violence. 

For instance, not having water near the community forces girls and women to look for it far away putting them at high risk of violence or pulling them away from school. 

In Bangladesh, 90 % of the water for households is collected by women and girls (United Nations Women, 2020). “Women travel up to 10km daily on foot just to seek out water for their families creating additional risks for women and girls of sexual and physical violence, harassment, incidences or threats of rape” (Iris Consortium of Gender Based Violence, March 2022, p.6).

After natural disasters, women and girls are vulnerable to experiencing increased violence like sexual exploitation and harassment when looking for shelter or other basic needs. This can be perpetuated by humanitarian actors. Also, there exists a high risk of domestic violence by their partner. According to a report by de La Puente, 2014, in 2011, after the floods in Pakistan, a survey showed that 52% of women and girls were exposed to some type of violence. 

The other typical gender-based violence related to climate change is the threats, arbitrary detention, torture, and murder of many female environmental human rights defenders. Global Witness conducted a report which states that in 2020 331 human rights defenders were murdered in 25 countries. 

As I write this article many women and girls in Somalia are dying or experiencing gender-based violence caused by a severe drought that this African country is having. Not far away, on the same continent, States members of the United Nations and international organizations were present at the Climate Change Conference COP27, held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, discussing and lobbying to reach an agreement to manage climate change. The conference ended with a historical agreement of all parties to “support developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change” (COP27 website). 

This is a good piece of news to continue the battle against gender-based violence. Women and girls, it is time to take action from your home and communities to reduce the risk of climate change and its relation with gender-based violence. 

Photo by Adrien Taylor on Unsplash

25th of November

Gender-based violence is a pandemic.

Photo: Julie Schroell

Today as we take the streets or social media platforms on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women let our voice be loud saying: this pandemic needs to stop.

I am proud to present this interview to Susanna Viljanmaa produced by PlusCollective. The production team was composed of Gloria De Felice, Susanna Viljanmaa, and Shirlene Green Newball.


“The first time a man disrespects you with his hands, It’s a goodbye”. Ninosca

I wrote a review for the Latin American Film Festival Cinemaissi. I was glad to write this story because of two reasons. First, I met the film director years ago and second because I am a immigrant woman like Ninosca. Here is the article. I highly recommend to see the film.

Aino tool: Helping violence victims

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide
have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

Three years ago, at a workshop, I met Anna Juusela, who is CEO and founder of We Encourage.We were in the same group working on a project. The second time I had the opportunity to join force with her was last year for the Campaign We Want We Do, against women violence. I asked Anna to describe of her organization and the activities they are developing to help women.

Women Wheel: What is the story behind the creation of We Encourage?

Anna Juusela: Few years back, in 2016, I was watching a documentary about an Afghan girl, Sonita Alizadeh, who wanted to be a rapper, but she was forced into marriage. Fortunately, the documentary maker ended up buying her freedom. Something shifted in me. I got a strong determination and vision about helping other girls get educated instead of being forced into marriage. Few years, later I let that vision grow in me and in November 2018, I took action to make this vision a reality.

“Forced marriages are not happening just somewhere over there, they happen under our eyes even in Finland”.

In an article published on We Encourage Blog (March 5, 2020), Anna states “using culture or religion as an excuse for behavior (forced marriages, genital female mutilation etc.), is wrong. In all societies, we should respect everyone regardless of religion, culture, or gender”.

If you are interested in knowing more about, We Encourage visit medium.

WW: What is your mission?

AJ: Our mission is to empower women and girls. We started by building the prototype of a fundraising platform to support NGOs that are helping women and girls. We pilot tested it during last fall and succeeded by getting three girls into school. While interviewing NGOs to understand their path points for fundraising, they brought up another problem, domestic violence. To help out with this need, we created AINO chatbot for the violence experiencers. It is a conversational companion offering guidance, help, and psycho-social support.

During the interview, Anna also explained that We encourage is a bootstrapping startup, which means that currently they don’t have funding; however, she said “luckily, I have found amazing people from all over”, for example, from Australia, South Korea, Canada, and others. In total they are 20 people.

Photo: We Encourage

WW: What is AINO?

AJ: AINO is a conversational Artificial Intelligent (AI) tool for providing psycho-social support and guidance to women victims of intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, and promoting sexual, and reproductive health. The AI tool is expected to act as a reliable source of information for women on their rights and where to seek different levels of support. The tool provides step by step recommendations to victims, and acts as a helping friend.

Other things that you should now about the tool is that it’s available 24/7, it acts as a first line response to support, it provides life-saving information such as how to prepare safety plans and how to access emergency shelters, and it also considers the accessibility of disabled people.

WW: When will it be available and who can use it? Can it be used out of Finland?

AJ: We are still in the development phase. We have the first prototype ready and now we are in the middle of creating the next version with more functionalities. We don’t yet know when it will be launched for the public, as we need to have many test rounds first to ensure it is safe to use.

Also, we need massive amounts of data to train the tool and we are always looking for people to help us out with data collection e.g.  survivors who would be willing to share their story (anonymously), violence professionals to help us with reliable data, etc. The tool is aimed for global markets and we are currently taking our first steps to explore the Tanzanian market.

WW: Who are the partners for this development?

AJ: The tool is built as an open-source project, in collaboration with survivors of IPV, violence professionals, and collaborating NGOs like Nicehearts ry, Naisten Linja, Kynnys ry, and United Nations Technology and Innovation Lab (UNTIL). We also have strategic partners builders like Hyvinpitely, GetJenny, and Datasaur.

WW: Is there something else you would like to add?

AJ: As a woman, who is a firm believer of gender equality, I know there is no such thing as women would be less qualified or weaker than men. There are strong women and weak men, as well as there are weak women and strong men. We all are unique and perfect in our own ways; it is time to break free from the collective conditional programming of gender issues and move towards a new paradigm of valuing each other as human beings. As a mother of a girl child, this way of treating millions of girls as a commodity is unacceptable. We cannot afford to live in a world, where girls are exploited, raped and abused.

Actions against Violence*

There are many types of gender violence. Be aware.

On the 25th, of November women around the globe will take the street or internet to manifest on the International Day for ​the Elimination of Violence against Women. This day was established in 1993 by the General Assembly of the United National. 

In it’s declaration article 1 states that violence against women “means any act of genderbased violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.

A lot of time went we talk about the term violence against women we only think of physical, psychological, and sexual violence,  however that is not the case since there are several types of violence. According to a Reporting on Violence against Women and Girls Handbook for journalist published  in 2019 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)  these are also actions of violence against women:

  • Cyberbullying and online harassment to women includes several:

Trolling: post or comments to try to provoke controversy

• Doxxing: online researching and publishing of private information about a person

in order to cause them harm

• Obsessive online stalking (cyberstalking), intrusive and threatening harassment

of a person

• Cyber-control in relationships

• Revenge porn: non-consensual dissemination of intimate images, online public

sharing of sexually explicit content without the consent of the person concerned,

often for the purposes of revenge.

  • Early marriages or child marriages
  • Female genital mutilation/cutting
  • Forced marriages
  • Gender-specific foeticide and infanticide
  • Sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape
  • So-called ‘honour’ crimes
  • Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants women
  • Violence by an intimate partner or ex-partner and murder (femicide).

Is important to remember that all these actions of violence are based on a patriarchal structure, which is defined by  the power between women and men globally. 

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

In Finland  +Collective which is a group of individuals of different backgrounds, networks, and organizations has a shared goal to support human rights and equality, promoting social change, and inclusion. Toward the 25h of November, it launched  the campaign ​“We Want We Do”.  The 6-week campaign program includes workshops, webinars, podcasts, and exhibitions; however, the main events will take place at Central​ ​Library Oodi and in Kansalaistori, Helsinki, from November 17 to 29, 2020. 

One the webinar that will be discussed is Online violence that was mentioned above. This way of violence is common today since the use of social media platforms are part of daily routine. You are welcome to join us on 20.11 at 16:30-18:00. For more information click here

In the campaign We Want We Do transgender women voice is hear about the violence they experience. In an interview to Susanna Viljanmaa from Transfeminiinit she manifested, “the violence that most transgender people experience is verbal. For example, the year I came out I got multiple harassment on the street everyday. Also, transgender immigrants face their own problems in Finland, sometimes their diagnoses from other countries aren’t respected or they might not need any diagnosis to get hormone replacement, thus their treatment ceases”. 

The artistic itinerant installation of Red Shoes created by the Mexican artist Elina Chauvet  which ​denounces the high percentage of violence against women and femicides during the 90s in ​Ciudad Juárez, Mexico  is one of the events that will take place on the November 25. Is the first time that this installation will be presented in Finland. During an interview for the campaign she said “the death of my sister by her husband  (femicide) was the cause of  my art. I was really excited when I got an email requesting that my art be presented in Helsinki, it will be at the very north of the planet”. 

Finland is not an exception for women violence. According to data from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in 2019 there was an ​increase of 6% in relation to 2018 in people who sought help from shelters. 91% of people out of 5,354 who sought services were women. In addition, statistic from the Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy (Krimo) states that in 2019, 15 women were murder in Finland. 

Women violence is a public issue, so please join us, act, and be part of this chain of change.  We Want and We Can Do it.

*This article was published in the We Encourage blog.