End Gender inequity and injustice by supporting affirmative representation at COP

Olanike Olugboji-Daramola making a presentation during a training of the 2nd Cohort of the COVID & Climate Resilience Nigeria project.

Photo Credit: Women Initiative for Sutainable Environement's Media Department

Olanike is a multiple award winning women's empowerment and environmental advocate.

The climate change crisis affects all of us—across every community and every continent; however, the United Nations has stated that the impact of climate change on gender is not the same. Women are increasingly seen as more vulnerable than men to the impacts of climate change, mainly because they represent the majority of the world's poor (1.8 billion) and are proportionally more dependent on threatened natural resources. One would think that the persons most affected by climate change should lead discussions and negotiations on how best to offer solutions to its ever-increasing challenges, but that is sadly not the case.

Historically, women have been underrepresented at the United Nations global conference on climate change, with a recent incident of only seven women leaders among the total of 110 attendees. This skewed gender ratio reflects the broader trend across delegation teams, which participate in negotiations on key climate issues such as funding, limiting the use of fossil fuels, carbon emissions, etc. According to an analysis conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), women account for a mere 34 percent of committee members in negotiation rooms, with some country teams having more than 90 percent men. In 2011, countries pledged to increase women’s participation in the talks.

This is problematic because climate change disproportionately impacts girls and women. The UN has estimated that approximately 80 percent of climate refugees are female. In the face of climate-induced instability, girls drop out of school and marry earlier, instances of gender-based violence increase, and women must take greater risks to secure fuel, food, and water for their families.

Sultan Al Jabar and his team in charge of the next UN's Conference of Parties (CoP 28), therefore, should know that women, despite their vulnerability, are not only to be seen as victims of climate change but can also be seen as active and effective agents and promoters of adaptation and mitigation. Women—with their strong body of knowledge and expertise—should thus be recognized as co-owners and agenda-settlers of the climate process, with their skills, knowledge, and experience being utilised to improve climate governance outcomes at the local and national levels as well as in multilateral climate forums and the private sector. There is a need to pay attention to the voices of these women—who continue to bear a differential impact—with mitigation strategies and negotiations being specifically tailored to the gender issues that women confront during a climate-related crisis. Without this, the gender injustice of climate change and the silent crisis for women will only worsen.

To begin with, measures, including quotas, can be put in place (as this campaign demands- ), to not only increase women’s meaningful participation and leadership at all levels of climate action decision-making but also to address persisting inequalities, including in terms of their access and control of resources such as land, technology, and finance. With the adoption of these practices and measures, and an increase in the number of female delegates participating in climate debates, negotiations, and development of mitigation strategies, of which CoP 28 is a leading conference; diversified solutions to climate change problems will not only be slowly and positively achieved, but gender injustice and inequalities in climate change will also be addressed.

Climate Change
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