After the United States’ election results, there is a heightened sense of awareness about gender. As mentioned earlier this week, gender and climate change is on the agenda at the COP. After three days of negotiations, the Parties approved a draft decision on gender and climate change, which will be submitted to the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) for approval next week.
In the draft decision, the Parties extended the Lima work programme. By doing so, the Parties demonstrated their commitment to continue efforts to increase the participation of women delegates. The program helps female delegates build skills to effectively participate in the UNFCCC process. Extending the Lima work programme shows the world that the UNFCCC is committed to incorporating women’s perspectives in the negotiation process.
During my time at COP 22 I have witnessed first hand the results of these efforts. In the adaptation arena, most of the negotiations I attended had a strong female delegate presence, and all of them had at least one female co-facilitator. Increasing the number of women leading the world on climate change efforts can result in more dynamic decisions and more complete decision-making.
Despite the benefits of having more gender-balanced climate change negotiations, a recent study looking at 881 environment sector ministries from 193 countries found that only 12 percent were women. As the recent election shows, there is still a strong glass ceiling waiting to get shattered in many parts of the world. Without women’s larger participation at the national level, a true balance at the UNFCCC will not be possible. However, for the countries that do have women in higher positions, the concerted effort to bring women to the negotiation table is important.
In all, much work has been done and much is left to do. As long as Parties continue to put gender on the agenda, they will be sending a message to the world that women’s voices are valid and necessary in the fight against climate change.