#COP23: Women must have a bigger role in tackling the climate crisis

While climate change is a global phenomenon, its impact is not felt evenly. Its effects are felt locally, and poor people suffer the most. Among the world’s 1.3 billion poor people, the majority are women.

Issues of gender and climate change  are important tothis year’s COP. COP23 presidents Fiji have a delegation  made up of almost 50% women, a figure that would put many developed countries to shame.  They have made clear several times that they want to make gender issues one of the big priorities at COP23. Several initiatives have been launched to continue raising awareness and pursuing dialogue on a subject that is too often marginalized.

While the problem is more visible in developing states, the northern hemisphere must not be complacent (as evidenced at a recent event organized by the Greens in the European Parliament). It is imperative that a gender analysis is applied to all actions on climate change and that gender experts are consulted in climate change processes at all levels. Women's and men’s specific needs and priorities have to be identified and addressed, whether they are from developing or developed countries.

Since Doha in November 2012, a regular spot to assess gender and climate change has been put on the agenda of the UNFCCC. Yet despite the agreement of countries that gender equality and human rights are necessary factors when addressing climate change, international action remains a bit vague. It is important that governments recognize this problem and implement a gender perspective and a human rights approach in their national action plans and ensure that women are on board when it comes to climate dialogue and action.

The Greens welcome the steps taken under the UNFCCC. The creation of national focal points and the adoption of the First Gender Action Plan at COP23 yesterday both demonstrate the importance of the role of women in climate action. Countries and institutions must now integrate these principles and practices into their.

Fixing the climate crisis is also an opportunity to implement a fairer system, one that protects the most vulnerable, including women. Women need to be helped to get back into the debate that concerns their future so that they get more chance to express themselves, suggest solutions for change but also take decision to implement them. Fighting for gender balance means ensuring that half of the population can have a say and play an active role in decision making (as this graph shows, we have some way to go).

Empowering women economically, politically and socially will benefit all of us. The gender debate is not only a concern for women.  Women cannot be left to deal with this alone. They need enlightened and courageous men to stand with them.

More information

·       Follow the thread #MindTheGAP on twitter to know what is happening on the topic as well as our MEP Florent Marcellesi

·       The COP Presidency – together with Switzerland – organized a dinner for female leaders on November 13, the eve of Gender Day.

·       On Gender Day itself, there was also a High Level Breakfast supported by the Mary Robinson Foundation.