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Delegates: Climate change affects more women than men

Delegates: Climate change affects more women than men

Mar 17, 2015

Gender equality and women’s empowerment must be at the heart of efforts to address the world’s most critical emerging challenges, including climate change, delegates told the Commission on the Status of Women on 13 March 2015.

Continuing the session’s general debate, delegates also stressed that “stepped up” political will, both at the national and global levels, would be needed to tackle such pressing issues.

“We can see clearly the grim reality of the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls,” said the representative of Tuvalu, a small Pacific island State.  In her country, climate change had led to rising sea levels, internal flooding and the intrusion of seawater into freshwater reserves.  Those threats compromised the human rights of the most vulnerable, especially women and children, she said.

Agreeing, the delegate from Maldives called climate change the single greatest threat to achieving sustainable development in his country and that women bore the brunt of its impact.  It was time to “step up our commitment to address the root causes of gender inequality”, he said, adding that “we must empower women to gain resilience to global challenges”.

Indeed, the health of the planet required drastic measures, said the representative of the Solomon Islands, highlighting the connection between climate change consequences and the empowerment of women and girls.  Development partners needed to help to curb the effects of climate change, including by taking drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  In that regard, she also called on States to draw up a strong agreement at the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris later this year.

Also linking those twin objectives, the representative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources said environmental issues must be at the forefront of the fight for gender equality.  Explaining that the issue of women and the environment was the “forgotten chapter” when it came to empowerment, she pointed out that women made up to 40 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, yet continued to lack equal access to land and services.  Women must be able to participate in decision-making when it came to those critical resources, she urged.

A number of delegates also said renewed political will on the part of States would be essential for progress for women in the environmental and other arenas.  In that connection, the representative of Congo commended the Commission’s adoption of a Political Declaration, which he said could serve as a new “road map” to reinvigorate the spirit of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Throughout the day, delegations described both successes and challenges with regard to gender and development.  The debate covered a wide range of topics, from balancing work and family life to the rights of women living under foreign occupation.


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