A call for climate change gender sensitivity

Jun 10, 2013
A  call for climate change gender sensitivity

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nation Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calls for gender sensitivity at the global climate change level stressing that its application needs to be done country-by-country so to maximise the impact of gender on climate solutions.

Speaking during a side event during the on going Bonn Climate Change talks in German Figueres says climate change is at centre of water, food, energy challenges, women stand at the heart of this nexus.

“Empowerment of women strengthens climate action, we can make it a reality. Each member state must have gender-sensitive policies which are more effective in making sure that they focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation,” she says.
Recalling Gender Day on 29 November 2013, and the “miracle of Doha” the Decision on Gender (Decision 23/CP.18), Figueres, emphasised that these are means to an end, a gender-sensitive climate policy.

The side event titled Promoting Gender Balance and the Empowerment of Women in the UNFCCC Process was presented by the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice (MRFCJ), the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA), and the UNFCCC.

It focused on options and ways to advance the goal of gender balance. It was attended by 
experts and representatives from government and civil society who presented best practices and highlight gaps, challenges and opportunities from their own research or experience, such as legislation or policy that promote gender balance, for example, in parliaments, sub-national and national governments as well as experiences at the regional level, and in other intergovernmental processes. It also focused on the exchange of views on gender-sensitive climate policy.

Addressing the same gathering, Verona Collantes, UN Women, said the UNFCCC Secretariat should ensure robust monitoring and reporting to track progress, and maintain a publicly available and updated database on the participation of men and women in the UNFCCC processes.

Collantes adds that the 18th UN Conference Of Parties held in Doha Qatar, Parties agreed to a decision on gender balance as a means to reach gender equality.
At its session, the COP adopted a decision on promoting gender balance and improving the participation of women in the negotiations and in the representation of parties in bodies established to the convention

“Gender differences are evidenced in climate change mitigation and adaptation with regards to carbon footprints, impacts of climate change, climate solutions, and access to funds. However, by simply integrating ‘gender’ into the current climate change agenda, we risk undermining the integrity of the gender concept.,” he says.

To analyse and address climate change from a gender perspective requires a reframing of the problem in such a way to take into account the root causes of inequality.

“Integrating gender into existing policies and practice by merely responding to existing gender roles might actually result in reinforcing current gender relations. In order to achieve a true eradication of inequalities, a transformation and change in current discourses, systems and governance structures is required,” Collantes says.

According to Lorena Aguilar Revelo from IUCN, there is need to start a discussion with a view to create awareness about the different gender perceptions in climate change discourses, to identify common ground, to consider how research can contribute fundamental insights and to speed up the implementation of gender responsive climate change policy.

In her discussion, Revelo, touched on accountability challenges and mentioned the Environment and Gender Index (EGI), a tool developed by IUCN to monitor progress toward gender equality and women’s empowerment in global environmental governance.

Revelo, underscored that Cancun and Durban are the first formal agreements obliging entities within the UNFCCC to ensure that gender is fully incorporated in their work on climate change.

Outlining challenges, she stressed the need to implement the policy to ensure a transformational change and underscored the risk of complacency once gender has been included.

The event was moderated by Robert Bradley, United Arab Emirates (UAE), shared insights and discussed efforts to strengthen gender balance, enhance the empowerment of women in the UNFCCC process, and advance gender-sensitive climate policy.

Ambassador Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, Deputy Director General, Multilateral, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa, welcomed the fact that the UNFCCC process has been “taken over” by women since COP 16 in Cancun and stressed that women bring a style that is “collaborative and moves the process forward.”

Mxakato-Diseko calls for parity in the representation of women in the process, and changes in the processes’ culture and language. The Bonn Climate Talks coverage was made possible by FANRPAN sponsorship.

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