Achieving Climate Goals through Gender Equality
On 15 March 2022, the Journalists and Writers Foundation organized a virtual panel discussion “Achieving Climate Goals through Gender Equality” on the occasion of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 66th Session. The parallel event hosted Shamiso Nandi Najira, Deputy Director of Environmental Affairs (Malawi), Oladosu Adenike, Eco-Reporter and Founder of ILeadClimate (Nigeria), Karen Podvin, Programme Officer in Climate Change of International Union for Conservation of Nature (Ecuador), and Bharat H. Desai, Jawaharlal Nehru Chair and Professor of International Law (India). The discussion was moderated by Michael Collins, Executive Director of the Institute for Economics and Peace (USA).
As in all areas of socio-economic development, women`s meaningful participation in climate-related response mechanisms creates a long-lasting positive impact. In line with the CSW 66th Session`s priority theme of “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change”, the JWF brought together gender and climate experts from different parts of the world to the most pressing climate issues that are related to gender inequality.
In his opening remarks Michael Collins underlined that according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature affecting the lives of billions of people around the world. There are, nonetheless, differences in the way that such ecological threats and climate change are perceived as well as acted upon in closing the gender inequality and promoting women’s rights. Collins talked about the important role that gender equity plays in developing effective, inclusive methods and higher levels of resilience to crisis while fostering the conditions necessary to create and sustain peace over time.
The first speaker of the session, Prof. Bharat Desai from India talked about the increasing violence against women during the climate crisis. Prof. Desai described all forms of violence that women are combatting in the countries that are hit most by climate change as double victimization. He shared several country cases where violence was exacerbated at times when the COVID-19 crisis and the effects of climate change rose simultaneously. Prof. Desai said, “When the families are under stress during pandemics, calamities, or climate conflicts, it is the woman who shoulders the burden of food insecurity, trafficking, violence”. He underlined that to achieve the climate goals on time, the global community must dismiss discriminatory gender practices in various areas of development.
Following Prof. Desai`s remarks, Shamiso Nandi Najira, Deputy Director of Environmental Affairs of Malawi, took the floor. Najira started her remarks by underlining that “In most developing countries, men and women have different access to resources such as land markets for their produce networks, income-generating activities, and access to credit”. Therefore in times of disasters, men and women have different options and safety nets for coping with climate changes and ecological threats. She said, “To address these gender disparities and how men and women are disproportionately impacted by climate change, reducing inequality and building resilience as central components of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development must be a priority.” Najira spoke on the importance of gender-equal policymaking acknowledging that women are disproportionately affected by climate change and are more vulnerable to each impact the policy prioritizes, gender considerations, population dynamics, HIV, and AIDS as key cross-cutting issues that may access vulnerability to climate change or may undermine the effectiveness of adaptation programs.
Oladosu Adenike presented the priorities of women and girls from Nigeria in addressing the climate crisis. She said that as women and girls in the agricultural areas are heavily dependent on environmental instabilities, they become the default, forced victims. Adenike underlined, “When we talk about climate goals, it means food security, zero on the poverty of which women play key roles in this aspect for having limited rights.” She underlined that protecting women’s right to own land and property is an essential part of the solution to diminish the unequal influence of climate change on women. Adenike put a great emphasis on the fact that “from an agricultural economics point, without land or fixed assets, women’s empowerment would not be possible”. She highlighted that traditional and cultural barriers are also posing a great challenge for women to be socially, economically empowered in the regions that are under the heavy impact of the climate crisis. In her remarks, Adenike also spoke on the importance of women’s leadership in making gender-just climate action policies.
The next speaker, Karen Podvin from Ecuador presented the best practices and priorities of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in combating the climate crisis through gender equality policymaking. Podvin underlined that in working towards gender equality, policies must address different needs of women in the implementation and evaluation stages of development policies, producing resources on women’s empowerment in climate settings, and facilitating gender-equal climate actions. Podvin also spoke on the importance of women`s meaningful participation in decision-making mechanisms to diagnose, analyze the challenges that women and girls face in different parts of the world, and produce locally embraced inclusive solutions.