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Madam Maa Zenai stands proudly at the entrance to her brand-new shed. Inside is the small herd of cattle that has changed her life, thanks to a project that employed a ground-breaking partnership between IFAD and UN Women to empower rural women in China.
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The villagers of the Giay ethnic minority are often at the mercy of the weather, so UN Women is helping them avert losses in their main livelihoods of farming and raising chickens and fish. Quang Kim, a commune in Ta Trang village near the capital of Lao Cai province in northern Viet Nam, is often hit by flash floods and landslides during the storm season. “The income of my family depends much on planting rice and selling chicken and fish, but all were buried by the flood in October last year,” said Ho Thi Nhung, 38, who lives here with her husband and two sons.
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Women who are “most disadvantaged” need “equal participation in all relevant planning and decision-making processes,” with regards to multi-stakeholder engagement for climate action, said Saad Alfarargi, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to development. This includes in particular “women with disabilities, girls and young women, minority women, indigenous women, and members of other disempowered and marginalized groups,” he said.
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Three women led the making of the film in 2018 when they were students at Massey University/The University of New Zealand: Wiktoria Ojrzyńska as director, co-producer and editor, Amiria Ranfurly as co-producer, and Alexandra Brock as cinematographer and editor. Subject to Change shows scenes of near-apocalyptic destruction wreaked by cyclones and climate-induced disasters.Through the voices of women like Ravaga, the film offers moments of reflection on how much there is to lose — land, culture, languages, life.
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Farida Easmin began her journey of coping and overcoming when she was 16 and her father died suddenly. As the eldest daughter, she had to take care of the others, and she worked in small non-governmental organizations while continuing her studies. “I still remember I used to earn only 1,350 taka per month (about USD15.5 now) and I used that money for expenses for my siblings and family,” she said.
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On the road winding into Chreng village in Cambodia’s Pursat province, a group of boys are playing volleyball on an arid plot of land as villagers watch and cheer. Around the corner, 24-year-old Lang Sokang is knee-deep in mulch, unearthing weeds and planting herbs in her garden. Her younger sisters are perched precariously on a wooden platform that serves as a makeshift greenhouse. The girls are carefully transplanting the saplings into little organic cups. In two weeks, the saplings will be ready to be planted in the ground. The sisters tend to the garden after returning from the rice fields in the morning. While they work steadily, a group of men from the village are drinking nearby in merry revelry.
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When Tran Thi My Linh, a 51-year-old rural woman first said that she would replace her rice fields with lotus fields, she raised many eyebrows. In the little commune of Hoa Dong in Phu Yen province, just south of Viet Nam’s capital, Ha Noi, villagers had planted rice for generations. However, with the changing weather patterns in recent years, millions of people have been affected in Phu Yen and in rural Viet Nam in general and people have started looking for new livelihoods.
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“Livestock and rice fields of villagers were damaged,” recalled Kanha, “but the drowning death of a 7 year-old girl was heart-breaking for me.” The girl’s death brought grief to the community in Kampot, the southern Cambodia city where Kanha is Deputy District Governor. When a disaster hits, boys and girls, and men and women have distinct vulnerabilities, and this shapes the way the experience and recover from a disaster. One such vulnerability is gender inequality.
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Every morning at 10 a.m., Sok Sopheap sets off to run errands and pick up her two grandchildren from school in Tropang Thom village, southern Cambodia. Sopheap is in her 50’s – a stage in life when many women in her country might slow down – but like many local women, she is bearing an increasingly heavy burden as a result of climate change. Like other villages in Takeo province, Tropang Thom has been in the grip of an oscillating water crisis.
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When Tranh Thi Gam first started her biogas digester business, she raised many eyebrows. In the little district of Ung Hoa, located south of Viet Nam’s capital, Hanoi, villagers were not accustomed to seeing a woman take the reins of a business. But eight years later, Tranh Gim has achieved not only financial success, but has played a role in a larger fight in Viet Nam against the devastating impacts of climate change.