Introducing: The Region360 Water Justice Lab
Over the next few weeks, we will introduce each of our Region360 labs and their projects. Up first: our Water Justice Lab!
The Water Justice Lab, led by Research Associate Shea Cheatham, works to analyze climate, social, and hydrological data, with the goal of predicting water futures, providing accessible information, and proposing solutions to community and political leaders throughout Latin America. Key to our mission is providing practically actionable recommendations which can empower local and political leaders to manage risk, improve disaster warning, and mitigate climate vulnerability.
The Water Justice Lab is currently working to characterize the relationship between water equity, climate change, and climate vulnerability in the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras). Guatemala and El Salvador remain the last two Central American countries without a comprehensive water law, though not for lack of effort; stakeholders in both countries have been engaged in fierce debates concerning the status of water as a public or private good for years. Until water laws are enacted, however, the exploitation of water resources by agro-businesses and mining corporations is expected to continue. If the inequitable distribution of water persists as weather patterns intensify, its effects will be felt more intensely, with far-reaching impacts on water quality, food security, and infrastructure. However, efforts to redistribute water equitably could have a multiplicative effect on climate resilience for the region—improving not only water availability, but also topsoil retention, ecosystem health, and more.
In This Issue:
International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to not only celebrate women, but to reflect on the complicated relationship between gender equality and climate vulnerability. Not only are women disproportionately affected by the distinct impacts of climate change, but there is evidence that women’s empowerment coincides with more sustainable societies. Women’s autonomy and gender equality have emerged as key variables in the development of sustainable, equitable societies—particularly in the wake of COVID-19, per a seminar organized by ECLAC, UN Women, and the ILO.
However, there is mounting evidence that the pandemic has deepened inequalities facing women and girls in Latin America. A recently published CODS report highlights lower rates of employment and school attendance, as well as higher rates of domestic violence and femicide since the beginning of the pandemic.
As Latin American communities begin to strategize recovery efforts, they have an opportunity to center women and gender equality—and some appear to be doing just that. Translators with the UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls Programme in Mexico have worked to develop information about gendered violence and COVID-19 in five indigenous languages. In addition, ECLAC and the government of France have signed an agreement to support Latin American recovery initiatives, particularly those which promote equality, a shift to circular economies, and energy transition.
We invite you to read these articles and reports below; as always, feel free to send questions, comments, or related readings by replying to this message.
Shea Cheatham, Research Associate, Region360.org
Additional Events and Reports
- The Generation Equality Forum, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, will kick off March 29-31 in Mexico City.
The March 2021 issue of the Spanish-language Revista Millcayac features articles, essays, and a special dossier about feminist resistance and arts. Our favorites? Carla Rosales’ article examining youth displacement and land dispossession in rural Colombia, as well as Palumbo and Buratovich’s investigation of the relationship between native populations and popular rural economies in southern Argentina.
Indigenous rights in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and abroad have rolled back during the COVID-19 crisis, says a joint report released by Middlesex University, Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, and the Forest People’s Program.