WOMEN and children are 14 times more likely to die or be injured during natural disasters than men, says Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era project co-ordinator Noelene Nabulivou.
She made the remark during a State dinner at Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi organised by participants of the Pacific Partnerships to Strengthen Gender, Climate Change Response and Sustainable Development workshop last Thursday.
"This makes climate change a gender issue. Women, men, girls and boys are, therefore, differently affected by and find different ways of coping with disaster and climate impacts," Ms Nabulivou said.
"Women and girls are more likely to be sexually abused after natural disasters and we have heard stories about this throughout the workshop."
She said climate change was already proven scientifically, with over 150 to 200 species around the world becoming extinct almost daily, 150,000 acres of tropical rainforest being destroyed and 22million tonnes of oil extracted from the ground.
"It is expected that 80 per cent of Great Barrier Reef will be gone by 2020.
"So we find ourselves in this context with a need to improve gender equality and human rights and see if there are adequate ways to address climate change and sustainable development."
According to Ms Nabulivou, the loss and damage associated with climate change were expected to increase.
"The rise in precipitation will harm our agriculture and food supply and this will affect all people living in Pacific island countries."