CSW66 - Youth Leadership in Promoting Gender Sensitive Climate Action

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CSW66 - Youth Leadership in Promoting Gender Sensitive Climate Action
Youth Leadership in Promoting Gender Sensitive Climate Action

On 17 March 2022, the Journalists and Writers Foundation organized a virtual panel discussion “Youth Leadership in Promoting Gender Sensitive Climate Action” on the occasion of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 66th Session. The parallel event hosted Kehkashan Basu, Founder and President of the Green Hope Foundation (Canada), Priyanka Chahal, European Climate Pact Ambassador (Kyrgyzstan), and Amanda Nesheiwat, Deputy Director of Sustainability and Community Outreach for the Hudson County Improvement Authority (USA). This vibrant discussion was moderated by Ali Mustafa, the Co-Chair of the UNDGC Civil Society Youth Representatives Steering Committee (USA).

Young advocates and activists have significant leadership in the implementation of the climate goals. They amplify the voices of young citizens for climate and environmental justice is crucial. Youth-led organizations are creating a powerful momentum at both local and global levels to bring awareness to the climate crisis and inform their network on the urgent individual actions that can be taken to combat the climate change crisis. In line with the 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 youth leaders and young professionals to discuss youth participation in different climate crisis decision making bodies, youth advocacy in climate change and gender-sensitive policymaking, and youth-led civil initiatives for the full and effective implementation of climate actions.

In his remarks, Ali Mustafa underlined that the conversation on climate change, the intersection of gender equality, and the disproportionate impact of the environmental crisis on women and girls are mostly oversight. He underlined that “it is a crisis that we can not ignore anymore”. Mustafa said that in extreme weather events, economically disadvantaged communities suffer the most including women and girls. When such disasters hit, the most vulnerable part of the society gets deprived of their houses, access to nutrition, and security. He also highlighted that in the Global South, women and girls face more difficulties in accessing health services in times of climate crisis.

The discussion started with Kehkashan Basu as she said that lack of awareness and knowledge on climate change and its effects increase the vulnerability of women and girls, violence against women. Green Hope Foundation was established to respond to these vulnerabilities with some solutions. Basu underlined that educating the community about disaster resilience is important for disaster management before it happens. She said, “We face multiple forms of this discrimination and exclusion due you to persistent inequalities discriminatory laws, harmful stereotypical cultural norms, and unequal, gendered social roles.” In her remarks, Basu put stress on the fact that communities and families are all these intersecting in qualities amplified by the threat of climate change weakening us further and further with each passing day of inaction. Kehkashan Basu also shared her journey leading to the establishment of the Green Hope Foundation: “I noticed early on that the impacts of climate change have a disproportionately higher effect on those people and communities who are least responsible for it. Amongst them are girls and women in all of our diversity who also suffer significantly more, which just increases our vulnerability to abuse and exploitation. Not only does climate change have unequal impacts, but it also exacerbates existing inequalities and an additional complexity arises from the fact that no single set of gender inequality, reducing policies with relation and to mitigate the impacts of climate change applies to all countries or in all contexts.”

Following Kehkashan Basu, Priyanka Chahal took the floor to talk about the impact of the climate crisis on women and girls. Chahal indicated that in agricultural economies, women are dependent on income from soil and climate change makes them more exposed to the consequences of ecological threats. The majority of women in the agricultural sector are not capable of responding to its adverse effects. Chahal said, “as a matter of fact, 80% of people displaced by the climate emergency are women and children; women empowerment has also proven to be one of the most effective ways to address the climate breakdown.” Chahal also covered the importance of women’s leadership in addressing climate change and leading gender-mainstreaming policymaking. She underlined, “Europe requires a gender response with the mainstreaming of gender equality in all European Union environmental policies. However, the pandemic and lockdown measures have impacted women and men differently from their health to working and living conditions and brought additional stress on our societies”. She concluded by remarks by highlighting the fact that climate change is a sustainable development challenge, with a broad impact, not only on the environment but also on the economic and social development levels.

The last speaker of the session, Amanda Nesheiwat shared her personal career development addressing the climate crisis and the impactful leadership that young advocates are leading in this development arena. Nesheiwat said “I used to think that there was no way that one person could ever make a difference with all of the global challenges that we were experiencing. Part of that is because I was never really exposed to climate education. Unfortunately, in the United States, we do not have a standardized comprehension of climate education within our school systems”. Nesheiwat advised young leaders to reach out to the leadership of their community and tell them about the project they want to work on that will help the members of the community. This will also improve your project management skills, network, and impact on society.