[Brussels, February 2022] Ahead of the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the European Women’s Lobby has prepared a statement with its key demands to address gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.
The CSW66 will take place on 14 to 25 March in New York, in an unprecedented context as the world faces a growing urgency to tackle climate change challenges and as we see an increased backlash on women’s rights, in particular during the Covid-19 pandemic. This CSW66 should be seen as an opportunity to do better than at the COP26, held in Glasgow from 31 October 2021 to 13 November 2021, and which delivered mixed outcomes on gender equality.
Joining the dots: From Glasgow to New York, the COP26 and the CSW66
The COP26 attempted to bring more light to women’s rights and to foster a diverse representation of women through the women’s delegates fund for instance, or by dedicating a whole “Gender Day” to climate change and gender equality. Speakers reinstated that climate actions and policies are not gender blind, stressing that while women are disproportionately affected by the impacts of the climate crisis, the current system perpetuates gender inequalities and places women at a bigger disadvantage when facing environmental changes.
The Glasgow Pact – the COP26 outcome document- makes references to the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in fighting climate change, it encourages the Parties to develop and implement gender-responsive policies, pushes them to monitor and evaluate their implementation of the Gender Action Plans as well as map out future improvements to be undertaken. In this regard, the Pact also calls the Parties to pay particular attention to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the Pact emphasizes the lack of progress in women’s equal representation and participation in political fora, and calls for “urgent” improvements when it comes to Party delegations, the COP26 fell short of mainstreaming gender, in particular in the negotiation rooms. This can partly be explained by the lack of women within Parties’ delegations; the unequal representation of women in decision-making positions translated to weak and non-binding engagements on advancing women’s rights amid climate change.
The EWL hopes that such a gap can urgently be addressed, in particular in the preparation of COP27. We also call upon the Parties to the upcoming CSW66 to be more resolute in their commitments and more ambitious in the outcomes. To empower women and girls through climate change and environmental policies, the European Women’s Lobby calls upon EU and worldwide decision-makers:
- To ensure the mandatory collection of sex-disaggregated data on the differential impact of climate change and climate measures on all women and girls.
- To mainstreaming gender in all climate policies and strategies from implementation to evaluation.
- To apply gender budgeting to advance gender equality and to allocate resources more efficiently.
- To adopt and implement binding measures guaranteeing the equal representation of women in in all aspect of life, including through temporary mandatory quotas.
- To increase women’s representation in climate-related ministries and international negotiations.
- To transition to a holistic green and feminist economy.
- To ensure climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies do not hinder women’s ability to participate in and benefit from the green transition nor exacerbate the unpaid care responsibilities that predominantly fall on women.
- To safeguard women’s and girls’ safety throughout their migratory journey.
- To proactively prevent the escalation of energy poverty as it mostly impacts single-parent households, of which women represent the majority throughout the world.
We must ensure that our responses to climate and environmental changes are inclusive of the needs and interests of the whole population, not just 50%. Hence, it is essential that parties to the CSW66 reflect upon and commit to concrete actions on “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes”.
Women and girls are powerful agents of environmental change. The green transition is an opportunity to make our societies, economies, and political leadership more inclusive. We must seize it fully to ensure no woman or girl is left behind.
The EWL, together with its French member, la CLEF, the French Presidency and the Trio Presidency (Czech Republic and Sweden) will organise a side event on the theme of women and the environment, during the CSW, on 17 March. More information will follow.