Women have an important role to play in climate change mitigation

Woman packs honey
Honey sweetens life – the Indian company Last Forest Enterprises creates jobs thanks to its sustainable cultivation methods. Photo: Kirthana Devdas

Women around the world are particularly affected by climate change, but they have less say in decision making, although their skills are important for success.

Climate change is having a greater global impact on those sections of the population that are most dependent on natural resources, but are least able to respond to natural hazards, a definition that particularly applies to women. Especially in emerging and developing countries, women are very often less mobile, have poorer access to health care and are less able to invest in schooling because of their responsibilities to families and communities. Women are also underrepresented in climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation committees and decision-making processes. The unequal participation of women in decision making often prevents them from contributing to climate-relevant planning, policy making and the associated implementation processes. This can even increase existing inequalities and reduce the effectiveness of policies and projects.

Making targeted use of women’s skills

At the local level, however, women, with their central role in resource procurement and field management would be important contributors to climate change mitigation measures in key sectors such as energy and agriculture, where the involvement of women in management has already led to demonstrably improved results for climate policy projects and measures. The 2017 UN Climate Conference in Bonn addressed the special role played by women in climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation with the adoption of the “Gender Action Plans” (GAP). The aim of the plans is to involve women at all levels more closely in decision-making processes in climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation – and to take greater account of gender aspects in the planning and implementation of measures.

The IKI and gender justice

Since its inception, the International Climate Initiative (IKI) has also addressed gender aspects in its work. The IKI project “Gender justice in the climate debate” already contributed to establishing the issue in international climate negotiations thanks to a sub-conference in 2008 at the UN Climate Conference in Poznan. Gender equality is also an important aspect of the IKI projects, in the adaptation to the impacts of climate change and the establishment of national climate change mitigation strategies.

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