A focus on gender at the UN climate talks

Each year at the UN climate talks, gender becomes a central thematic element in the negotiations. Today is that day, six years after the first Gender Day was incorporated into the UNFCCC.

Since then, every year, COPs have not only scheduled thematic days around agriculture and food security, cities, energy, forests, oceans, etc. but also dedicate a day to numerous events, special activities and initiatives focused on integrating the gender perspective in climate negotiations.

Greenpeace activists at the climate march in Bonn 4/11/2017 Bernd Lauter Greenpeace activists at the climate march in Bonn, 4 November 2017 

But what is the gender approach? Gender is the social role assigned to men and women simply for being that: male or female. This leads to serious inequalities and can stall fair and peaceful progress.

By taking into account gender issues, we seek to address inequalities, shed light on them and try to advance solutions to a whole range of problems.

According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations):

 “The impact of environmental degradation is gender-differentiated in terms of workloads and the quality of life; gender disparities in natural resource management and participation in policy-making must be clearly understood.”

Taking gender into account allows us to understand the different vulnerabilities of both men and women. Like many other environmental and social problems, it is women who are the most vulnerable to climate change in many countries.

Ghalia Fayad on board the Rainbow Warrior 4/11/2016 © Jeremy Sutton-HibbertGhalia Fayad, speaking on board the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior 4 Nov, 2016

Gender differences are also noticeable in consumer habits. For example, women are more likely to choose sustainable consumption such as eating less meat and have a greater openness to organic foods.

As stipulated in the Paris Agreement, during last year’s Marrakesh COP the parties adopted a series of decisions to improve how climate policy incorporates gender issues in all activities relating to adaptation, mitigation, as well as in decision-making on climate policy application.

Finally, on November 11 at COP23, the delegations of the UNFCCC adopted the Gender Action Plan. This should be approved this week in the COP plenary.

Greenpeace welcomes the inclusion of this approach in climate negotiations. We believe that in order to stop climate change we need an energy transition as well as fair and transformative policies that take into account the entire population.

Atmospheric CO2 levels are now at the highest level for the past 800,000 years. This is due to an industrial revolution characterised by a set of industrial, scientific and technological changes and developments that inevitably meant the design and implementation of the current economic model.

This is a model based on an intensive production system, the consumption of resources and dependence on fossil fuels to expand and develop, where tasks and jobs are based on the extraction and burning of coal, oil and gas, and where it is men who mainly hold the roles to achieve this production-based system.

The gender approach deals with these issues by analysing the division of labour, access to and control of resources and political participation in decision-making.

The fight against climate change, the move away from fossil fuels and the transition to an energy model based on 100% renewable energy is our chance to build a fair, peaceful and green future.

Greenpeace believes women are agents of change. If we want to advance more sustainable societies where health and wellbeing are a priority, it is essential to increase the number of women in decision-making positions and those taking part in climate and energy negotiations.

We, women and girls, make up 52% of the global population. There must be no negotiation of any kind that does not take into account half the population.

We are not a minority group, we are people with full rights. Although women are involved with climate and its protection on a daily basis, let’s take advantage of Gender Day at the climate change talks to amplify our voice.

Tatiana Nuño is a climate campaigner with Greenpeace Spain and a member of the Spanish Gender Team

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