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Dear Gender Action Supporters and Would-be Supporters,
We are inching ever closer to an irreparable climate catastrophe. Though rarely discussed as such,climate change is a gender issue.
To ensure the survival of our planet and the lives of women, men and sexual and gender minorities, Gender Action is pressuring the world's largest public development banks to stop investing in fossil fuels.
Examples of development banks' harmful gender/fossil fuel investment impacts abound. The World Bank-financed South African Medupi coal-fired power plant, the world's fourth biggest coal plant, exemplifies intertwined devastating climate and gender catastrophes that fossil fuel projects inflict on current and future generations:
Gender Action and local partners' fieldwork during 2013-2022 found that an influx of male workers to construct and operate the Medupi plant transformed the local ratio of men to women to 6:5. Outsider male workers propelled a demand for sex work, which increased rates of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, sexual and gender-based violence, high school dropouts, teenage pregnancies, orphaned children (due to maternal mortality and disappearing fathers) and divorces. Typically, one female "services" multiple men who not only buy women's and girls' sexual services but also hook them to alcohol and drugs. HIV/AIDS has become the leading cause of death among youth. Traditional household structures and social bonds have eroded.
Women's previous livelihoods derived from collecting medicinal and nutritional plants and animals collapsed, pushing them into financial stress. Construction of the Medupi coal plant eliminated vegetation and animals women used for nutritional and medicinal purposes, including the Baobab and Kgwaga trees and Mopani worms - sources of food and skin healing, and the local aloe species used to treat high blood pressure and boost immune systems.
The coal plant's heavy water consumption requires women, who are primarily responsible for water collection, to travel further to collect clean water or buy unaffordable bottled water. The plant is polluting one of the area's last remaining clean water sources, the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, further reducing access to clean water.
Women, who compose the majority of the plant's cleaning staff, and men who built and operate the plant, are routinely exposed to chemicals that damage their health. Women's time required to take care of sick household members has soared.
Affected community members were neither consulted nor compensated for forced resettlement to build the coal plant that destroyed their homes and livelihoods. Women were not provided training and skills development for alternative employment.
This single project's gender and climate impacts typify fossil investments' decades-long devastation to health and livelihoods. Fossil fuel projects uproot communities; spew pollution that threatens our planet; and overturn ecosystems primarily managed by women in low-income countries. Yet development banks' projects usually neglect these gender, biodiversity and climate change linkages.
Gender Action works in coalitions to stop our taxpayer-supported development banks' fossil paradigm which strands fossil assets for decades and crowds out essential investments in clean energy.
Every year the world is experiencing an increase in extreme weather disasters affecting millions worldwide. This year, for example, Bangladesh and Pakistan experienced intense flooding that washed away whole towns and displaced thousands. Women and other people lost everything. Catastrophe need not be inevitable for future generations if development banks and the governments which own them stop financing fossil fuels and invest instead in clean energy. Doing so could contribute to a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.
Gender Action calls on the world's public banks to shift their money out of dirty fossil fuels into sustainable, renewable energy that could benefit vulnerable women and their communities.
Join Gender Action in attaining climate and gender justice.
Please contribute by clicking https://www.genderaction.org/donate.html or mailing a check to Gender Action, 925 H Street NW, Suite 410, Washington DC 20001.
Achieving real climate and gender justice takes all of us.
Thanks for your support and Happy Holidays!