Paris, 2nd December, 2015
The Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs had a side event on Gender and climate change in which women gender champions in the climate change negotiations addresses challenges and opportunities for ensuring gender and women issues in the climate change agreement at COP21.
Notable and influential Women and Gender advocates like Mary Robinson, Stella Gama from Malawi delegation, Lakshmi Puri of UN Women gave insightful contributions on the importance of linking gender responsive policy to actions on the ground and how a gender responsive climate agreement can galvanize a groundswell of climate actions. It was acknowledged that climate change has implications for food security, educational opportunities and livelihood and it impacts compounds the challenges already faced by women but there is still a general misunderstanding of how it can be institutionalized within the UNFCCC.
The speakers expressed the importance of giving visibility to gender in the global agreement and how it has been difficult in terms of action on the ground. According to Stella Gama “gender is seen as numbers but when it comes to action, then there is a challenge”
Lakshmi Puri of UN Women stressed the importance of downscaling climate finance to the local level. All climate funding finance mechanisms needs to be grassroot oriented to ensure that women benefit more from them.
With respect to gender reference in the global climate agreement there are some fears voiced out by some male negotiators that;
- The climate change agreement is not a gender agreement but an agreement for the whole of humanity and planet why the emphasis on gender
- Climate change is anthropogenic and there is need to consider all the social dimensions and not only gender dimensions
- Gender is not too important compared to all other pressing issues of ambition and finance.
- What kind of gender equality do women want in the climate agreement?
In response to these fears the speakers said that the fact that climate change is anthropogenic makes it a social issue and that social process shakes the whole of humanity. It was a social issue that led to the sinking of the Titanic “ If we have had a woman steering the Titanic it would not have hit a iceberg which is of course melting now” Lakshmi Puri, UN Women.
Key Conclusion for gender in the negotiations
- It is desirable to have strong gender presence in the preamble and purpose section and other thematic areas and bring gender language back into the text where it is missing
- Engagement of high level gender champions in the negotiations including male champions
- Continued gender engagement and awareness at the group level
- Continued support for Lima work Program on gender
- A collective and influential voice on behalf of gender and women
There was a different perspective on the discussion from the point of view of the private sector. The private sector looks at it from a clear lens of effectiveness, business and growth. There is business case to be made for gender and private sector is investing in gender because it is smart and making money. However the private sector needs a clear direction and strategy from government
In conclusion, all the delegates and other stakeholders were enjoined to advocate on behalf of gender and women in the negotiations to strengthen actions at the grassroot levels.
Ms Titilope Gbemisola Akosa- Centre for 21st century Issues
Ms Edna Kaptoyo- Indigenous Information Network