December 8 has been named Gender Day at COP21. Highlighting the gender differentiated impacts of climate change, the day comprised of a plethora of events, including a women’s caucus, presentations by women from around the world of their practical solutions for climate change, and performance and testimonials from women climate leaders.
Yet, sadly, these events remain largely confined to the sidelines of the conference, and are not reflected in the actual negotiations. Men far outnumber women in the negotiations and gender is yet to become a cross cutting issue in the negotiating text.
“Women are not being adequately represented at the planning level,” said Kalyani Raj, member in charge of All India Women’s Conference. “Women’s needs, impacts of climate change and requirements are different, so it is crucial that their voices are included more in policy and decisionmaking,” she adds.
Realising this urgent need for adopting a gender responsive approach to developing just solutions to climate change, the Women and Gender Constituency (WGC), a stakeholder group of the UNFCCC comprising of 15 women’s organisations and thousands of members from over 60 countries, put together the following key demands for COP21:Governments must commit to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees to prevent catastrophic climate change, in line with equity and common but differentiated responsibilities Adaptation approaches must be country driven, gender responsive, participatory and fully transparent The agreement must ensure that all climate actions, both adaptation and mitigation, respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights, gender equality and the rights of indigenous peoples, intergenerational equity, a just transition and decent work, food security and resilient ecosystems Developed countries must do their fair share by taking the lead to close the inequitable emissions gap of current intended nationally determined contributions and providing unconditional support to developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change Technology development and transfer must be safe for people and the environment, affordable to all and gender responsive Governments must commit to wide ranging ambitious and just actions pre-2020 under workstream II Concepts such as “net zero” or carbon neutrality or any that encourage off-setting and unsafe technologies must be left out of the agreement The long-term global goal of the agreement must articulate a sustainable pathway for urgently reducing emissions: phasing in 100% safe and sustainable renewable energy systems and a wide-ranging structural and lifestyle changes, and phasing out harmful technologies and fossil fuels The new agreement must explicitly include a standalone section on loss and damage and include a mechanism to address both financial and non-monetised loss and damage Countries must provide clearly defined, new, additional and predictable gender responsive climate finance in the form of grants. The goal of $100 billion per year must be a floor, not a ceiling, scaled up at least every five years, with a 50:50 balance between mitigation and adaptation, and include finance for loss and damage in addition to adaptation funding Finally, participation in decisionmaking under the new agreement should be inclusive and transparent, ensuring all barriers to movement and travel for developing country participants are alleviated and the civil society has access to decision making spaces
“We are collectively working to make sure all climate policy is gender responsive,” said Bridget Burns of Women and Development Organisation, one of the member of the WGC. “We are highlighting to ministers why it is important that policies respect the rights and needs of women.”