Women are still underrepresented in climate change negotiations, as shown in a UNFCCC secretariat report presented at Cop26. As well as finding that women remain in the minority and are less likely to lead a government delegation, it also analysed speaking times at selected Cop25 meetings to provide insights on active participation. It found that “men were overrepresented in terms of presence and tended to speak more than women”.
Despite the recognition of distinct vulnerability of women and girls to climate change, women who are at the forefront of climate change, especially the women from climate-vulnerable countries and indigenous women were not present at the decision-making levels of COP26. Climate activists have claimed that COP26 is one of the most exclusionary climate conferences.
Bold, new commitments from around the world to put gender equality at the forefront of climate action at COP26
Countries and non-state actors have come forward with new commitments and initiatives that will strengthen the resilience of women and girls in the face of climate-related impacts, while empowering them within climate action, at today’s COP26 Gender Day in Glasgow.
COP26, the climate talks considered the last chance to put the world on track to meet its climate ambitions, is “recognising and celebrating” gender equality and the empowerment of women in climate policy and action. However, women are still missing at the top climate table.
The recognition of what women contribute, or can contribute, to the survival of the planet and to development remains limited. Gender inequality and social exclusion continue to increase the negative effects of unsustainable and destructive environmental management on women and girls.
At its COP26 Gender Day on Tuesday 9 November, the UK will announce £165 million to tackle climate change while addressing the inequalities that make women and girls more vulnerable to climate change and empowering them to take climate action.
The Glasgow Women’s Leadership Statement on gender equality and climate change acknowledges the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and girls. It also celebrates the role of women leaders at all levels in addressing the climate crisis, and commits signatories to increased support for women and girls’ climate action.
Around the world, women will experience heightened risk in the face of climate change. From slow-onset disasters to abrupt environmental shocks, women are more exposed to economic instability, displacement, sexual violence and death, especially in the context of the global south. For younger women, this could prompt removal from school or early marriage.