Jamie Wen-Besson is the Communications Officer to the GGO and is responsible for the GGO’s strategic communications. With an approach rooted in stakeholder analyses and strategic planning, Jamie is a communications and advocacy specialist with experience across international organizations and diplomatic institutions. Prior to joining the IUCN, Jamie served as the Influence and Communications Officer for the UK Ministry of Defence’s British Defence Staff in the U.S. for four years, assisting the department in engagement strategies with U.S. interlocutors in the think tank community.
Are transmission rates of tropical diseases linked to gender inequality?
The Dominican Republic is one of the world’s ten most climate-vulnerable countries and experiences significant gender inequality in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The combination of these issues can threaten the health, safety, and livelihood of women and girls, who are often directly on the frontlines of impacts.
Global data provides context for these risks: women and girls account for 80 percent of those displaced by climate disasters and are among the first to feel the impact of poverty and gender-based violence when resources become threatened or scarce. In the Dominican Republic, diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and zika reach increasingly higher levels of propagation as increased incidence of flooding, droughts, hurricanes, and tropical storms increases the reproduction of the carrier, the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
These impacts have acute implications for women and girls who are typically expected to manage household water, energy, and waste management. During these activities, women often work prolonged hours in typically inadequate conditions and face increased exposure to the Aedes Aegypti.
This correlation is reflected in a feminization of transmission rates of tropical diseases in the country; in 2016, women accounted for 74 percent of registered zika cases. While in 2014, women accounted for 64 percent of chikungunya cases, and teenage and young girls accounted for the most dengue-related deaths.
To help address these issues across the environmental sector, USAID supported the development of a recently launched Climate Change Gender Action Plan (ccGAP) for the Dominican Republic through a partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Advancing Gender in the Environment (AGENT).
ccGAPs investigate, identify, and analyze the state of gender and environment issues in a country, across each of its priority sectors, and make policy and implementation recommendations that are catalyzing how countries respond to equity and equality across environmental sectors and issues.
At the official launch of the ccGAP in June, the vocal and active support of leaders from across ministries show that gender equality and sustainable development is indeed a multisectoral effort. As Janet Camilo, Minister of Women, noted, "This plan will generate actions so that women, being the main victims of climatic disasters, we can participate in the construction of how to approach prevention and repair in damages."
The Dominican Republic’s ccGAP was developed through extensive multi-stakeholder outreach, networking, and capacity building so that women and men at all levels can meaningfully participate and contribute to solutions. It also calls for a shift in national health policies to move from gender-blind perspectives towards those that include revised standards and protocols to address gender-specific health impacts from climate change.
Throughout the numerous environment sectors covered in the ccGAP, from not only health, but also agriculture, food security, waste management, forestry, water, and more, the ccGAP is a blueprint and action plan to help ensure women thrive as entrepreneurs, as workforce employees, and throughout the overall economy.