Women are disproportionately affected by climate change, yet they are underrepresented at COP21, the negotiations on climate change currently being held in Paris. Several women’s organizations are at COP21 working to change this reality, including the Women and Gender Constituency, a coalition made up of organizations such as the Women’s Environment & Development Organization and GenderCC. The Constituency has held several events during COP21 aimed at amplifying women’s voices and putting pressure on world leaders to reach a gender-responsive and gender-just climate agreement. They also just published a report on gender-just Solutions to climate change. With initiatives like Gender Day and other interventions, women are making a difference at COP21, but we need to continue to make our voices heard after the talks come to a close.
Women are often the first to come up with innovative solutions to climate change precisely because they feel its effects earlier and more acutely, yet they are still not equally represented in the negotiations at COP21. It’s an all too familiar position for women: that of the least consulted on an issue that impacts us most.
Women make up 70% of the world’s poor, meaning they have fewer resources and therefore suffer the effects of climate change more profoundly. They are also still the primary ‘housekeepers’ in most of the world, particularly in developing nations, and subsequently feel the effects of climate change in an acute, daily way. Increasingly, women must travel further and spend more time to get water, food and firewood, exposing them to a heightened threat of sexual violence, and increasing the likelihood in some places that a woman will pull a daughter out of school to assist with chores, or even marry a daughter off to relieve the burden on her own household. Climate change has also contributed to higher levels of forced migration and displacement, leaving women vulnerable to human traffickers.
Women are the Key to a Successful Climate Strategy, TIME magazine, 1 December 2015
Why Gender Matters at COP21, Alternatives Journal, 23 November 2015
Women are the Victims of Climate Change — and the Keys to Climate Action, The Guardian, 1 December 2015
Visit the Women and Gender Constituency website to follow the key events they’re holding during COP21, and to join their advocacy mailing list.
Support a women’s organizations dedicated to climate change. Here are a few to consider: