By Dana Al Emam – Feb 01,2016

AMMAN — Prompted by a feeling of guilt for not having done enough to protect the environment, Nisreen Haram declared a “war on trash” in 2011 and adopted a “green” lifestyle that minimised her household’s waste.

“My family and I succeeded in reducing our waste production from one big bag daily to one small bag every four to six weeks,” Haram said on Monday, adding that the experience helped re-evaluate her relationship with food and restore her relationship with nature.

The mother of two aimed to reduce waste through the adoption of environment-friendly household management techniques that favoured organic options and eliminated practices harmful to nature.

After finding that the kitchen was the largest producer of trash, mainly plastic, in her household, Haram revolted against the “old ways”.

She replaced disposable plastic bags and containers with fabric to keep food items and focused on consuming fruit and vegetables during their seasons.

Furthermore, she replaced commercial personal care and hygiene products, which come in plastic containers, with natural materials that perform a similar function.

Haram shared her experience in household waste management at the Climate Change from a Gender Perspective Conference, organised by USAID Takamol-Gender Programme and held in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Arizona State University (ASU).

The conference, which concludes on Sunday, seeks to launch dialogue among stakeholders to highlight and prioritise key policy and institutional capacity interventions to enhance gender mainstreaming in climate change action in Jordan, said Takamol-Gender Programme Chief of Party Nermeen Murad.

Murad added that sustainability is based on principles of social justice and equality, with women and men playing different and important roles in achieving sustainable development.

“Green economy is opening a new competitive edge for Jordan and its human capital, and represents a huge potential for both women and men to innovate within their communities and tap into new economic opportunities within relevant sectors,” she said at the opening of the three-day event.

Environment Minister Taher Shakhshir said climate change puts additional pressure on already scarce natural resources, citing the important role of Jordanian women in the mitigation of the phenomenon at the political, social and economic levels.

He noted that Jordan was the first country in the region to design and implement a programme on gender mainstreaming in climate change efforts in 2010, which was the base for later national programmes and strategies.

“Women should play a more active role to become agents of change and push for their rights to be included and integrated in all development policies,” Shakhshir noted.

Representing ASU, Rajesh Buch said the efforts of women, who are predominantly responsible for food production in low-income agricultural communities around the world, are central in challenging the effects of climate change.

Buch emphasised the need for a multi-stakeholder collaboration to enhance applied research, build capacities and implement solutions.

Mounir Al Asmar, a faculty member and researcher at ASU, said the focus on combating climate change effects must begin with reducing energy consumption, a step that should be followed by creating sources for clean energy.

He cited an ASU study that concluded that heatwaves drastically increase hospitalisation rates among women, while men are more likely to die of extreme heat.

Also speaking at the conference, Abdullah Bdeir, president of the Jordan Green Building Council, reviewed some grassroots projects implemented across the Kingdom to enhance the energy efficiency of households.

Based on his field work, he highlighted women’s knowledge of the needs of their households as well as their ability to adopt more sustainable options regarding environment preservation.

But women in communities across Jordan lag behind their male counterparts despite their efforts to become leaders and decision makers in the private and public sectors, according to USAID Deputy Mission Director to Jordan Lewis Tatem.

Women, who constitute 44 per cent of public sector employees, remain under-represented in decision-making positions, with 29 per cent of them occupying senior positions, while only 7 per cent sit at the highest policymaking levels.

Commenting on Jordan’s contributions to global efforts to curb climate change, Tatem said the Kingdom, despite the increased pressure on its fragile resources, is one of the most active countries in the region in fulfilling its global environmental commitments.

He cited the increased adoption of clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels in several parts of the country, some of which are supported by the USAID Jordan Competitiveness Programme.
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