Despite international acknowledgement that women are disproportionately affected by climate change, the Lima climate negotiations have been slow to deliver progress on recognising their importance, while threats of pushback loom on the horizon.
“There are references to gender in those documents, but the language is overall weak. This is why we are pushing for gender equality, instead of gender balance,” Mrinalini Rai, a Nepali gender and indigenous peoples adviser for the Global Forest Coalition, told IPS.
Rai complained that some governments, led by Saudi Arabia, are trying to eradicate the concept of gender equality – promoted by nations like Mexico – from the negotiating texts discussed at the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), running Dec. 1-12.
Tuesday Dec. 8 was devoted to “Gender Day” at COP20, held in Lima this year, to reflect on the role women should have in the climate talks, amidst a growing trend of conservative positions on the question.
Rai underscored that “the ways women adapt to and mitigate climate change differ from those of men, and that’s why when we refer to gender equality our intention is to have women’s rights guaranteed in every negotiation and every document of the UNFCCC.”
The big thing, in the view of activists like Rai, is not the documents themselves, but what they could provide for women working in the field, far from Lima’s negotiating rooms. For her, it is not only about “acknowledging the differences” but about the language being “a means for pushing policies to actually land on those who need them.”
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