The climate crisis is not “gender neutral”. Women and girls experience the greatest impacts of climate change, which amplifies existing gender inequalities and poses unique threats to their livelihoods, health, and safety.
Across the world, women depend more on, yet have less access to, natural resources. In many regions, women bear a disproportionate responsibility for securing food, and water. Agriculture is the most important employment sector for women in low- and lower-middle-income countries, during periods of drought and erratic rainfall, women, as agricultural workers and primary procurers, work harder to secure income and resources for their families. This puts added pressure on girls, who often have to leave school to help their mothers manage the increased burden.
When solutions to climate change address these realities, they are more effective. Here are three compelling reasons why women are essential for climate action
Climate action requires 100 percent of the population
Half of the world’s population is comprised of women and girls, yet they are often left out of the conversation when it comes to climate change. But if we want to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need everyone on board. That means more women and girls need to be empowered and involved.
“To leave no one behind, all voices must be taken into account. Women’s voices and their knowledge are important in co-creating solutions as we enter a new digital dispensation in our quest for just climate solutions.” Says Ann songole, Climate justice activist
Including women in climate action is not only important but necessary. Women have valuable insights into their households’ livelihoods and specific needs within their communities, making their participation crucial to formulating sustainable solutions that cater to those most affected by climate change. Involving women in decision-making processes at every level of policy development is critical to ensure inclusive and equitable results.
Empowering women means better climate solutions
Women make up nearly half of the agricultural labor force in developing countries. When provided with the same access to resources as men, women can increase their agricultural yields by 20 to 30 percent. This boost in productivity not only improves total agricultural output by 2.5 to 4 percent, but it can also help reduce world hunger by 12 to 17 percent, according to the UN.
Empowering women also means recognizing the unique challenges they face including social norms and discrimination, lack of control over land ownership, access to credit facilities, and decision-making power in households. These barriers are not only unjust but also impede sustainable development efforts. Given women’s significant contribution to food production globally and their intimate knowledge of natural resources management systems, it is necessary to ensure their full involvement and participation in addressing the impacts of climate change on agriculture. Empowering women for climate solutions in agriculture will not just benefit society but align with global commitments that guarantee the protection of human rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability, social justice whilst achieving economic growth for all.
Women are key to building climate resilience in communities
When it comes to building climate resilience in communities, involving women is crucial. In fact, the UN reports that communities are more successful in resilience and capacity-building strategies when women are part of the planning process.
Women also have valuable knowledge about sustainable agriculture and natural resource management, passed down through generations of indigenous and local communities. When empowered with resources and decision-making power, they can lead efforts to adapt to climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, and extreme weather events. Additionally, investing in women’s education and healthcare can improve their ability to cope with the effects of climate change. Therefore, it is essential to recognize the important role that women play in building long-term resilience in communities facing increasing environmental challenges.
It is essential that women are fully and equally involved in the development of climate policies and actions so that we can build a more resilient and sustainable future for all, Ann kobia,head of Partnership at PACJA
The good news is that women and girls are becoming increasingly empowered to contribute to, and benefit from, climate action.
Within the UN Climate Change process, many countries have shared how they are integrating gender across different priority sectors within their national climate action plans (Nationally Determined Contributions) and National Adaptation Plans.
The Gender Action Plan agreed by governments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calls for women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in the international climate process and to ensure a prominent role for women in decision-making and in climate action.
Governments meeting under the UNFCCC adopted a goal of gender balance in national delegations and in national climate policy and action in 2012. Since then, the UN Climate Change secretariat has reported annually on the gender composition of national delegations and policy and decision-making bodies under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.