At last a turning point for women and climate change?

30 November 2009 | News story

All those who have been working tirelessly to ensure that women are properly considered in efforts to tackle climate change will be watching events at Copenhagen with bated breath. Any agreement that emerges from the conference may be the first to recognize the gender aspects of climate change, and, in doing so, will be on the way to saving the lives of millions of women and children.

Women, as the majority of the world’s poor, are among the most vulnerable to climate change. They are also central to climate change solutions. All over the world women have developed a range of strategies to cope with the impacts of climate change and tend to take a more altruistic view on matters affecting their communities.

For many years IUCN has been working to achieve a global shift in thinking that ensures women’s participation and leadership in decisions relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation. In partnership with the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (an alliance of more than 35 UN agencies and NGOs), and through widespread consultations, IUCN works to ensure that women’s involvement in areas such as energy use, deforestation, population and economic growth, science and technology are incorporated into policy making within the UNFCCC framework.

For the first time, the current UNFCCC negotiation texts contain language on gender equality and women and it seems that momentum is building. “It has been a long time coming, but finally it seems that the voice of women is being heard in the international climate change debate. At the negotiations in Copenhagen, we hope to see leadership from key negotiating blocks in securing language that recognizes women as critical agents of change in the effort to reduce global carbon emissions,” says Lorena Aguilar, IUCN’s Senior Gender Advisor. “It is not enough to just recognize women as disproportionately affected by climate change impacts, such as droughts, floods, and more intense storms.”

“Including gender in the negotiating text ahead of the Copenhagen climate change negotiations is not only a question of social justice and human rights. It is critical in ensuring equitable and sustainable human development by the most effective and efficient means,” Aguilar adds.

IUCN in partnership with the Government of Finland, has held a series of training workshops for delegates in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Arab States, and Small Island Developing States to highlight the importance of making climate policy gender-responsive. With the Government of Philippines and the Arab League it organized an Asian and Arab briefing for negotiators just prior to the UNFCCC Bangkok talks in September.

During the Copenhagen conference, on 17 December, IUCN is holding an event entitled Investing in Women's Leadership for Climate Solutions. Featuring a number of high-profile women, the event will focus on the importance of gender equality as critical to mitigation and adaptation and enhancing the effectiveness and reach of climate change funding. Theater for Africa will stage a series of performances on gender and climate change during the first week of conference.

For more information contact:
Lorena Aguilar, IUCN’s Senior Gender Advisor
Lorena.aguilar@iucn.org