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Women’s Climate Shock Insurance: A Safety Net for Livelihoods

December 5, 2023, Dubai – Today, at a session during the U.N. Climate Conference of the Parties (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates, Climate Resilience for All launched the Women’s Climate Shock Insurance Initiative for extreme heat and flood to support the livelihoods of 150,000 women in India and Pakistan.  

 

Extreme heat and flooding are pushing millions of women across the global south further into poverty. Climate disasters have displaced people and have triggered migration to urban areas, further exacerbating climate-induced impacts. Women are disproportionately harmed by climate change–many women working outdoors and in dangerously hot indoor conditions in India report year-round rashes, miscarriages, urinary tract infections, dizziness, crop losses, loss of income and more. Women in Peshawar, Pakistan, report constant illness from heat, skin diseases due to lack of access to clean water, unbearable hygienic conditions, and vaccination rates declining due to a lack of refrigeration in never-before-experienced high temperatures. They also suffer from sleepless nights inside hot and crowded dwellings, and due to cultural norms are required to stay indoors, when men can sleep outside in cooler conditions. 

 

By developing the Women’s Climate Shock Insurance Initiative – a new parametric insurance covering both extreme heat and flood – the initiative will provide income support directly to the individual when there are harmful heat waves and extreme flooding. Further, the program will provide participants with the choice of an item of protective equipment that best suits their needs, such as a tarp, cool box, or solar-powered lights. It will also pilot an early warning system and corresponding targeted actionable guidance for specific communities and geographies. Lastly, the program will bring new participants into the financial system with bank accounts and banking applications used by the many participants with smartphones.  

Led by Climate Resilience for All, the initiative’s partners include the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA in India), a 50-year-old trade association, and Khwendo Kor (Pakistan), a 30-year-old organization. With Swiss Re, a globally recognized reinsurance company, we will collaborate on creating these new insurance products designed to provide income when harmful and potentially deadly climate disasters strike. 

 

H.E. Ms. Razan Al Mubarak, High-Level Climate Champion for COP 28, said “Women are central to their communities and are the backbone of their families. They are the key decision-makers when it comes to food, fuel, child-rearing, land, household, and resource management. They also, unfortunately, constitute most of the world’s poor and are among those most impacted by climate change and the loss of nature. I applaud this innovative collaboration to bring financial and risk-reduction supports to women who are the backbone of their families and communities. I stand ready to help advance and elevate this initiative in any way I can.” 

 

Reema Nanavaty, Director of SEWA’s 2.8 million members, said, “Climate impacts are now perpetually impacting the lives and livelihoods of women workers. This package of income supplement, practical risk reduction, and early warnings offers great promise for women working hard every day to increase their agency and economic power.” 

 

Maryam Bibi, CEO of Khwendo Kor, said, “Women in these remote regions of Pakistan already have diminished access to health care, food security, clean and sufficient water, and education. Climate impacts are only making these conditions more brutal. Solving these impacts needs concerted efforts by all stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society.  

We’re excited to be CRA’s partner and a part of a novel approach to assure safety and livelihoods for women and families - and to build agency that can bring long-term stability and health to our region.”  

 

David Howden, CEO of Howden Group, which has previously supported SEWA to shield its members from extreme heat, said, “Every day we better understand the complexity of the impacts that climate change is having on those who are most at risk. It is vital to develop financial solutions to support women who are disproportionately affected by climate-risks, to ensure they have the financial support and resources they need to overcome the risks they face. The collective action taken to bring this important initiative to fruition is a powerful example of using insurance as a force for good.” 

Veronica Scotti, Chairperson of Public Sector Solutions, said, “Swiss Re's mission is to make the world more resilient. This initiative gives us the opportunity to share our knowledge in a way that tackles climate and sustainable development challenges and creates long-term value for vulnerable communities. We can help build more resilient and adaptable communities by enhancing disaster resilience and fostering financial inclusion in both advanced and emerging economies.” 

 

Kathy Baughman McLeod, CEO of Climate Resilience for All said, “Climate-driven extreme heat and floods are a profound threat to the lives and livelihoods of women across South Asia. This new climate shock insurance will provide women with a layer of protection for a heat wave or flood event–we know that when we partner with women to build and deliver solutions, whole communities benefit.”    

 

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Climate Resilience for All is a gender-focused, climate adaptation nonprofit dedicated to safeguarding people and livelihoods from the impacts of extreme heat in vulnerable communities around the world.  

 

The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is a national trade Union working to improve the livelihoods of its of 2.8 million self-employed women members from 18 states in India working in the informal sector.  

 

Khwendo Kor is a non-profit, non-partisan values-based organization based in Pakistan striving for resilient communities and empowered women and girls.  

 

Swiss Re is one of the world's leading providers of reinsurance, insurance and other forms of insurance-based risk transfer, working to make the world more resilient 

 

Contact: Geraldine Henrich-Koenis, Chief Communications Officer, geraldine@climateresilience.org  

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