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CSW58 Side Event: 'Lessons from the Fukushima nuclear Accident'

Side Event during Commission on the Status of Women, co-hosted by WECF, sought to explore how best to protect the environment and health of women and girls from radiation exposure

28.03.2014 |United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS)

On 10 March, the side event “Global Health and Environment in the Post-2015 Agenda: Lessons from the Fukushima nuclear accident” was held during the Commission on the Status of Women, bringing together stakeholders to take stock of the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, and the continuing and multiple impacts being experienced in the region.

The event was co-hosted by Human Rights Now, Physicians for Social Responsibility, andWomen in Europe for a Common Future. It sought to explore how best to protect the environment and health of women and girls from radiation exposure, and the importance of implementing lessons learned from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster, in a discussion on global health and environment as part of the post-2015 development agenda.

Kazuko Ito, Secretary-General of Human Rights Now, spoke of the current situation in Japan three years after the disaster, noting that a vast amount of radioactive materials were released, estimated to be over 168 times of that released by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. This has created a serious risk to the health of the population, in particular expecting mothers, infants, children and youth. The Fukushima nuclear accident teaches us that nuclear energy is not sustainable, and that such a disaster cannot respect the environment or the right to health of the most vulnerable, Ms. Ito emphasized.

Sascha Gabizon, Executive Director of WECF explained that WECF works with communities to address the negative impacts of unsustainable energy. She shared evidence of health impacts from nuclear industry and uranium mining activities.

WECF recently published a report on the effect of radiation on reproductive health, which discusses that after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, a lower fertility rate was observed in affected areas, while the number of stillbirths and birth defects increased dramatically.

 “It is now recognized that not only children, but also women, have a greater health risk from radioactive contamination then men,” Ms. Gabizon continued. She pointed to a 2006 US National Academy of Sciences report on Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR VII), which found that harm to women is 50% higher than harm to men from radiation doses over a lifetime. “Radiation sensitivity depends on age and gender, and is especially high for the unborn child and female organs,” Ms. Gabizon explained. “The higher sensitivity of women is a result of, among others, hormones and cell growth in certain tissue, for example in breasts.”


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