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Women on the front line of climate battles

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By Louise Bloomfield


Published 15 November 2022


"We are the main custodians of the untouched forests. If women are protected, we will also protect the territories and ecosystems essential to climate mitigation.”

According to the European Central Bank, a 1 percentage point increase in the percentage of female managers within a firm has also been shown to lead to a 0.5% decrease in CO2 emissions.

There were a number of important messages at Gender Day yesterday. Read more in our daily round-up.

Yesterday’s Gender Day focused on how women bear the burden of the negative impact of climate change and how women can help shape and influence the climate change narrative.

COP itself still has work to do on this front. We have seen numerous comments on social media and elsewhere of male dominated panels and negotiating rooms.

Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, wrote in an article released to coincide with Gender Day: "Like all crises, the Climate Crisis has a greater negative impact on women than men. Women and girls are doubly affected – first by the crisis itself, and further by a set of enduring repercussions that are specific to women’s lives, and that we must tackle as an equal priority."

She had three asks for COP27. The first is to take special measures to increase women’s and girls’ meaningful participation and leadership at all levels of decision making. The second is to support a just transition for women through an alternative development model. The last is that global investment supports women’s skills, resilience and knowledge, especially in developing countries.

She said involving women is crucial in the fight to halt global warming: “Our best counter-measure to the threat multiplier of climate change is the benefit multiplier of gender equality. Let us make this a foundation of our global solidarity and our global response."

Maya Morsi, President of the National Council for Women, opened the day by outlining the Africa Women Climate Adaptive Priorities (AWCAP) initiative launched by Egypt. AWCAP’s objectives include promoting gender sensitive social protection policies to ensure just transition pathways, and strengthening commitments to invest in women’s education. 

Indigenous women from the Amazon also held a press conference, highlighting the violence they experience against their bodies as well as their land. One young indigenous woman from Ecuador said “We are the main custodians of the untouched forests. If women are protected, we will also protect the territories and ecosystems essential to climate mitigation.”

The power of gender inclusivity in the face of climate change

Fostering gender equality in decision making processes has been shown to be a powerful force in achieving real progress on climate change.

The European Central Bank published a paper in February 2022 with the eye catching statement that a 1 percentage point increase in the percentage of female managers within a firm leads to a 0.5% decrease in CO2 emissions (this was based on analysis of around 2000 listed businesses). Further, firms with greater gender diversity reduced CO2 emissions by about 5% more than those with more male managers.

These statistically significant statements tell us that gender inclusivity and opportunity is critical in both modernising the workplace, attracting talent and generating the positive effects in addressing climate change for businesses and wider society. Businesses must focus on representation and engaging women in leadership pipelines, particularly intensifying efforts to get more women into STEM education and roles. This therefore starts earlier in the employment life cycle with the need for government and organisations to engage women (girls) in the green economy and climate change challenge from school age to develop the pipeline for gender equity in the workplace for the future.

Other key developments

There were a number of other announcements at COP27 yesterday:

  • As Monday was also Water Day, a series of measures on water security and adaptation proposed by the Egyptian presidency were adopted.
  • Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Pakistan, the Philippines and Senegal will be some of the first recipients of the Global Shield initiative, a new insurance system to provide funding to countries suffering in the face of climate disasters, co-ordinated by Germany on behalf of the G7.
  • Reports suggest little progress has been made on the technical detail of a global carbon market, as envisaged under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Broad principles for the mechanisms were agreed last year, but it looks like a lot of the technical detail is set to be pushed back another year to COP28.

As week two begins with uncertainty on the progress of formal negotiations, it is worth heeding the call of Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC: “Let me remind negotiators that people & planet are relying on this process to deliver. Leaders asked for action. Let’s use our remaining time in Egypt to build the bridges needed to make progress on 1.5, adaptation, finance and loss & damage.”


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