Women Delegates At All-Time Low At COP27

Published on:
by Aaroshi Rathor
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As COP27 progresses forward with the announcement of new funds like ‘Loss and Damage’ finance funding, along with OPEC’s multimillion-dollar fund to help green finance development in poor nations affected by climate change, one can’t help but notice that this change is primarily being brought up by male politicians, delegates and leaders representing their countries at a global platform. Women have more or less been completely deprived of their opinions and representation at such an important global event that has a massive impact on women all around the world. Climate change has a direct impact on women, as more often than not they are forced to leave their schooling and education to ‘sacrifice’ for their family’s well-being. 

Climate change has a very different and drastic impact on both genders, especially the female gender. According to a report by UNEP, an estimated 80% of people who are displaced by climate change are women. The report also states that this makes them more vulnerable to the violence of all forms. According to the Paris Agreement, all parties when taking action on climate change had agreed to empower women and equally represent men and women in all aspects of the Convention process and to respond to the differentiated needs, priorities, experiences and capacities of men and women. They also agreed on improving the overall gender balance and increasing the participation of women in all UNFCCC processes. 

However, all these agreements and concerns about women’s participation in important global events seemed to have been ignored  at this year’s COP27 summit in Egypt. According to the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO), this year’s COP saw the least amount of women’s participation, with only 7 women leaders at the event, compared to 110 men.It was also found that gender parity in national COP delegations will not be achieved by 2040. The fact is that the international community cannot hold the global average temperature increase to the desired 1.5 degrees Celsius without addressing the concerns of women and girls all around the world.  

According to a report by UNFCCC, climate change is affecting men and women in rural areas the most as extreme weather events like floods impact women working on agricultural lands and maintaining their homes, ultimately resulting in their displacement. The report also stated that due to environmental degradation there is an increase in gender-based violence, including child marriage which is seen as some sort of coping mechanism to deal with losses associated with climate-induced disasters such as storms, floods and drought. However, the report also stated that women can bring massive change in combating climate change. When given equal opportunity for decision-making, women can make sustainable decisions like going to school, increasing food security, and reducing energy demand. As a result, traditional gender norms are reversed and an inclusive environment is made wherein women are promoted to leadership roles in governance, promoting their opinion on international forums that can help build climate-resilient policies which, in turn, promote gender equality in the overall decision-making process.    

According to research by Yale, it was found that countries with a larger representation of women at the national level, particularly women politicians, pass more ambitious and stringent climate policies. The research also found that countries with more women leaders are more proactive in their support of environmental protection. When it comes to equal representation of genders at this year’s COP, it was found that most European, North American and island states have a more balanced team as compared to African and Middle Eastern countries, which are composed mostly of men.   

Climate change is not exclusive to any specific gender as it ultimately affects the whole of humanity. By depriving or ignoring women of their representation at international conferences, organisations and governments are not only making society regressive but also endangering the livelihood of women all around the world who have always been fighting to achieve their basic right of ‘equality’ since the beginning of time. It is important to not only inculcate ESG factors of environmental, and social governance only to business strategies and investments, but also include the diversity and inclusivity aspect of the ESG approach in all global platforms in order to reach the desired goal of an environmentally sustainable future.  

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