Belyndar Rikimani on being a Pacific woman at the climate change frontline

As the Pacific region is now known to be the frontline of climate change, many Pacific women are now demanding more involvement in climate-related decision-making and to be fully engaged in climate responses - as climate change has affected women in so many aspects of their lives.

Often, many times women, youth and Indigenous people are excluded from decision-making, yet these groups are typically most strongly impacted by the effects of the Climate Crisis. They are the ones that have felt the effects of the Climate Crisis more acutely than those who have more power in society and they are starting to advocate for climate action to protect the environment that they depend on for survival.

The women in the coastal community of Nusatuva in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands are experiencing a big setback with the current border restrictions of COVID19 that became a huge concern for mothers because of food security.

The high influx of people returning from Capital Honiara to the islands have caused many women to now search for employment. This led them to work in Forestry Plantation and also even involved in seaweed farming. This allowed them to earn a reasonable income to sustain their families because their gardens could not earn the money they need and also feed their families.

Recently many island nations are facing intense Tropical Cyclones (TC), increased sea levels, frequent floods and also a rise of gender based violence which has caused women to be very vulnerable in many societies.

In 2020, Fiji was struck by 3 TCs, out of the 3 cyclones. TC Yasa turned out to be as the most powerful storms that have ever struck Fiji - and left many people displaced and mainly women and children were the ones that were devastated and affected by the aftermath of the Cyclones.

In Vanuatu, women are struggling to deal with both recent disasters and COVID 19 - and are calling out to helplines and are physically reaching out to centres reporting issues of domestic violence, sexual abuse, shelter, food, and water. They are also requesting on information on COVID 19 which the Vanuatu Women Centre with the Vanuatu Government are making sure that all the basic needs are met for all the women in affected areas around Vanuatu.

The Fiji Coordinator of the Women’s Crisis Centre states “this is the time for us to have solidarity, to share strategies, to share our challenges, to share our concerns, and to support each other. We have to look after each other.” Help is needed in providing basic necessities that are helpful to the affected people and areas.