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© Guila Clara Kessous, 2022

“Women of the world: earth in mind and sustainability at heart”

“Women as Nature choose to give birth to the living and are part of species conservation. Today both Women and Nature are suffering, victims of overexploitation of their ecosystem. Women are part of the solution to one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced. Let Women be in the world in dignity within a preserved Nature for sustainability rhymes with eternity…”
Guila Clara Kessous, 2022

Paris, 8 March 2022. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, in a disrupted international context, UN Women France and the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society share a common goal: to claim women’s crucial role and highlight their voices in the fight against climate change.

Climate change is driving significant changes in people’s livelihoods worldwide. Although the threat is global, its impact is unequal and inequitable: unequal because some countries are more at risk than others, and inequitable because the countries most at risk are the least responsible. It suffices to say that between 1990 and 2015, the richest 10% of the population were responsible for more than 50% of carbon emissions, while the poorest 50% were responsible for only 7% (Oxfam, 2020).

Women and girls are disproportionately impacted by climate change, due to pre-existing inequalities and greater social and economic vulnerability. Women make up 80% of climate refugees, and they are reportedly 14 times more likely to die when climate-related disasters occur. On average, less than 20% of the world’s landowners are women, while they represent about 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. If women were to have the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase their farm yields by 20-30%, thus reducing the number of undernourished people by about 12-17% globally (UN Women).

Despite women being disproportionately affected by climate change, they are often absent from environmental decision-making bodies. For example, only 12% of environment ministers worldwide are women (IUCN, 2015). Yet, data from 25 developed and developing countries shows that countries with greater female parliamentary representation are more likely to establish environmental protection systems of their territories (UN Women).

It is both unimaginable and ineffective to continue to exclude those most impacted by climate change from the fight against it, as the crisis has far-reaching consequences on sectors such agriculture, access to energy, purchasing power, biodiversity and the global geopolitical balance.

Putting equality at the heart of public policies and private initiatives is, now more than ever, essential to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. It is imperative to support women’s positive action in climate crisis management and in the green transition.

The current crisis requires an equitable and feminist response. On the basis of their engagements[1], UN Women France and the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society call on leaders to rapidly implement the following five recommendations to accelerate the green transition and promote inclusion.

  • Equality in leadership: achieve parity in all environmental decision-making bodies by 2030, in line with the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals 5 (Equality) and 13 (Climate).
  • Data collection: gather climate-gendered data to highlight the issue. Carefully measure the achieved progress and identify new challenges.
  • Training and support to scale up impact: raise awareness on the gender-climate nexus across generations. Support women environmentalists and facilitate women’s access to education and job creation in the green economy.
  • Shared resources: improve women’s access to resources (agricultural, energy, land) to enable their full engagement in climate action.
  • Gender-sensitive financial levers: build impact financing which includes gender-sensitive indicators and solutions in the ecological transition.

We call on governments, local authorities, academic institutions, the public and private sector, associations and individuals to join forces and work together to drive inclusive climate action. This is part of the solution to one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced.

[1] Women’s Forum’s Charter for Engagement on Women Leading Climate Action, first presented at Kyoto at the Women’s Forum G20 Call to Action in 2019. Find it here.

Coalition sur la Justice Climatique launched at Forum Génération Égalité under the patronage of UN Women and its initiatives on gender and climate

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