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Climate Change and the UN's Women and Gender Constituency

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This blog was written by Robin Tokmakian of the LWV's UN Observer Group.

It’s International Women’s Day, the day we honor women worldwide. We’d like to highlight some of the work being done by an international cadre of women: the Women and Gender Constituency (WGC), one of nine stakeholder groups of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  LWVUS is a member of the WGC.  

Under the UNFCCC, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are grouped into constituencies based on the groups they represent (women, environmentalists, youth, etc.) to influence climate negotiations at UN Conferences. The WGC is made up of organizations invested in women’s rights and gender equality. 

The WGC has been instrumental in uplifting women’s voices around climate change policy within the UN. 

Meeting of WGC at COP27 (Egypt/2022)

It provides a platform for its member NGOs and the UN to share information on issues relating to women’s rights, gender equality, and environmental protection. It ensures that women are represented in the delegations that formally negotiate UN climate policy.   

Additionally, the WGC educates members on the ins and outs of the UNFCCC and its complicated negotiations. Through WGC, women who may otherwise not have the resources to be heard at international climate conferences can raise their voices.  

Recently, the coalition spoke out on the need to include women on the organizing committee of the UN’s next climate conference in Baku, Azerbaijan. Initially, Azerbaijan only named men to its committee. A large, international cry of dismay from women forced the correction of this slight. Such action is codified by the Gender Action Plan (GAP), which was incorporated into the UNFCCC in 2017 after many years of advocacy by the WGC. Priorities include working towards a gender balance on committees, in leadership, and participation, building capacity by educating women in the area of climate negotiations, and monitoring how women are included and/or impacted by climate issues.  

WGC’s Gender Just Climate Solutions Awards 

Each year, the coalition hosts the Gender Just Climate Solutions awards.  These awards highlight climate solutions: 

  • Whose benefits are equally accessible to women, men, and youth;   
  • That either alleviate or do not add to a woman’s burden of workload; 
  • That empowers women through better mobility/ accessibility, enhanced livelihood security, enhanced food security, improved health, access to safe water, etc.; 
  • That is locally led and/ or locally driven; that contributes to climate change mitigation, emissions reduction, or climate adaptation; and  
  • that shows interlinkages to cross-cutting issues, such as peace-building or natural resources management.   

This is among the additional criteria. 

Winners of this award include: 

  • Women-led shea butter producers in Togo who decarbonized their production process, strengthened the sustainability of their sector, and built up their own economic autonomy; 
  • An initiative empowering vulnerable communities in Lebanon to implement local climate solutions with a complementary program that launched the first all-woman solar team in Lebanon; 
  •  A program training Cameroonian women and girls to overcome food insecurities and create economic opportunities by growing organic foods; 
  • A program in Moldova that engages students, teachers, and school staff in ecological water sanitation; 
  • Programs training Jordanian women to cultivate native plant species, prevent soil erosion, and support groundwater recharge. 

These are just a few of many examples of international women’s important role in solving problems related to climate change. 

On this International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the collaborative work that women do not only make the lives of women better but to improve the lives of all humans.   

Learn more about International Women's Day.

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