An Irish Church development organisation has denounced that disasters stemming from climate change kill 14 times more women than men.

– Stronger human rights regulation of multinationals

Trócaire revealed that shocking statistic February 26 in Dublin at the presentation of a new report, ‘Women Taking the Lead: Defending Human Rights and the Environment’.

A key part of that presentation was a call from Bertha Zúñiga, daughter of murdered Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, for stronger international regulation of multinationals to guarantee they respect human rights in the countries in which they operate.

– Natural disasters increase young girls’ chances of being trafficked

Among the key points highlighted in the Trócaire report include the fact that “disasters resulting from climate change are estimated to kill 14 times more females than males”.

“Natural disasters increase young girls’ chances of being trafficked. Young girls are 20-30% more at risk of human trafficking following environmental disasters”, the Irish Church aid and development group also alerted.

“More than 70% of women in crisis situations such as natural disasters have experienced direct violence”, Trócaire also denounced.

– Less than 13% of agricultural land owned by women

The ‘Women Taking the Lead’ report also emphasised the fact that “worldwide less than 13% of agricultural land is owned by women, making them more vulnerable to eviction”, alongside the reality that “attacks on female human rights defenders are increasing”.

“Last year 137 women were attacked for opposing big business and defending their communities”, Trócaire decried, with almost half of those women victims being indigenous and engaged in the defence of rural areas.

“As the climate crisis unfolds, transnational corporations are taking over huge areas of land in developing countries to generate profits through extractive industries and mega-development projects.

“This is often at the expense of human rights and the environment, and with a disproportionate impact on women”.

– Push for due diligence legislation

Zúñiga and other panellists at the Trócaire report presentation called on both national governments and intergovernmental organisations to implement mandatory human rights due diligence legislation for multinationals, which they said would be a step towards preventing corporate human rights abuses.

Measures such as a recently-introduced French Duty of Vigilance Law mean companies must limit their negative impacts on human rights and the environment, and if they fail in that they will be held liable, explained Swann Bommier, an Advocacy Officer with CCFD. the French Catholic Committee against hunger and for development.

– Lenten campaign for brave mothers trying to provide futures for their children

In the meantime, while Catholic development organisations all around Europe continue to push to ensure multinationals fulfill their human rights duties overseas, Trócaire is dedicating its 2020 Lent campaign to helping the women on the frontlines of local battles against big business, and to honouring their resilience in the face of threats and inequalities.

“The threat of assault and murder is a daily reality for many of these women, who are fighting for their families to live better lives”, explained Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra, drawing attention to the plight of the women “struggling to protect their families from intimidation, violence, hunger and drought”.

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.