Better support for women to build up resilience against climate change is, therefore, increasingly recognised as an essential part of climate action. It is especially relevant in Nepal, where more women than men are small-scale or landless farmers, a sector which climate change is already severely impacting. Women also tend to have lower access to technical resources and information about resilience
All over the world, women are disproportionately impacted by the events climate change is making more likely, from droughts to floods to hurricanes.
At the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last month, countries approved a decision text urging parties to "accelerate their efforts" to implement the previously agreed Gender Action Plan (GAP).
It also invited countries to submit information for a report next year on the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change as well as the role of women as agents of change and the opportunities for women from climate action.
Better support for women to build up resilience against climate change is, therefore, increasingly recognised as an essential part of climate action. It is especially relevant in Nepal, where more women than men are small-scale or landless farmers, a sector which climate change is already severely impacting.
Women also tend to have lower access to technical resources and information about resilience.
Too often the stories of how climate change is already impacting women in Nepal go unreported.
That's why 16 female reporters from across Nepal this year set out to uncover new stories on this important subject. Supported by the British Council, these Nepali journalists uncovered stories of both impacts and resilience from across Nepal. Here are some of the takeaways from their reporting.
Women in Nepal are disproportionately impacted by climate change. It's hardly news that women are impacted by climate change in different, and often more difficult, ways. But the breadth of different impacts on women covered in these stories shows how diverse this topic really is.
Journalist Nitu Ghale, for example, looked at how climate-induced migration is impacting women in Kavre.
She found that men leaving home to make money in Kathmandu or abroad means leaving women, the elderly and children to directly face the impacts of climate change. "The most striking thing was growing water scarcity," she says.
Meanwhile, reporting by Sujata Karki looked at how the livelihoods of women working in tourism-dependent jobs in Ghandruk are being impacted by the intersecting impacts of climate change and the pandemic. "I covered the story of women's livelihood of indigenous communties who run hotels, work in hotels and produce organic food products focusing on how they are impacted by unpredictable weather," she says.
Women can also be impacted culturally by climate change. For example, a unique mini-documentary by Urmila Gamwa Tharu, a Kanchanpur-based video journalist, investigated whether dhakiya making in the Tharu region is being put more at risk due to climate change impacting the grass used to make the baskets.
Women can also face additional challenges in extreme weather events.
While reporting for her series of radio programmes on the impacts of floods on women in Manang, journalist Kavita Shrestha talked to 22-year-old Laxmi Gurung who, pregnant at the time, only just escaped her house before it was swept away by floodwaters.
That night, Gurung gave birth to her son, she told Shrestha, making the day both the "happiest and the saddest" of her life.
Women also lack access to resources. In her reporting on how floods, declining yarsagumba crop and collapse of trekking tourism are together impacting female farmers in Phoksundo in Dolpo, journalist Sonam Choekyi Lama says what struck her most was that many of the most impacted women were not able to raise their concerns even to local government bodies.
"Their response and ability to cope with climate change are not in their control, whether in terms of resources, financial resources or policy," she says. "There is a huge informational gap between the local communities, the local government bodies and the province itself." She found these mountain communities are instead using local belief systems and traditions to adapt to the changing climate, without knowing why it is changing.
The lack of support for women could even be contributing to girls marrying early to escape poverty.
Still, women are often leading the way on climate change. Other stories, though, showed the positive results that can emerge in climate adaptation if women are supported with these resources.
Journalist Marissa Taylor, for example, wrote about how women farmers in Mahottari in the Tarai plains of Nepal are turning flooded river beds into agricultural fields. "What struck me most during my reporting was the resilience of the people," she says.
"The government and the international aid organisations only help them for their own agendas, after that is fulfilled, these people living on the frontlines of natural disasters are on their own."
Many women are also pushing through to be leaders in mitigating climate change. Journalist Nisha Rai focussed on profiling Shilshila Acharya, an environmental leader in waste management, a sector typically dominated by men. "I am proud that I contribute equally to decision making as well as being a part of the solution, not only in gender equality but for the environment as well," Acharya told Rai.
Logistically, many of the reporters found it challenging to report from remote areas, due to COVID, the difficulty in accessing locations and in some cases extreme weather. But the journalists also came up against other barriers. Ideally, climate journalism uses scientific research as a basis on which to build reporting.
But in many areas of Nepal, this research simply isn't there.
In many ways, reporters have only scratched the surface of the many ways that climate impacts are intersecting with gender in Nepal. Far more of this type of reporting is needed all over the world. As this project showed, ensuring female journalists are able to write climate stories is an important part of this, both to ensure their own perspectives are represented, and because female journalists are more likely to reflect other women's needs and perspectives.
A version of this article appears in the print on December 13, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.