“We can no longer afford to dismiss and waste the potential of women’s agency” — Lakshmi Puri speaks on women and climate action

Speech by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at the “Gender at the Heart of Climate Action” event on 2 December.


I am pleased to be afforded this opportunity to make an intervention to raise the bar for the consideration of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the climate negotiations and in climate action.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment is indispensable to the realization of sustainable development. This is strongly reflected in the outcomes of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — outcomes which strongly committed to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, including through increased investments to close the gender gap.

Goal 13 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on climate change includes target 13.b, which provides for the promotion of mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management “including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities.”

In the context of the UNFCCC, Parties to the Framework Convention have adopted more than 50 gender-related mandates including Decision 1/CP.16 (Shared Vision, COP 16) which affirmed that “gender equality and the effective participation of women are important for effective action on all aspects of climate change.” Gender equality and climate change is now a standing agenda item in the annual COP as mandated by the decision on promoting gender balance and improving the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiation. In 2014, Parties adopted the Lima Work Programme on Gender, which contains a set of mandates for Parties to “promote gender sensitivity in developing and implementing climate policy and achieve gender-responsive climate policy in all relevant activities under the Convention.”

These mandates, together with the outcomes of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development provide a strong and solid bases for seizing the opportunity at COP 21 for decisive action that promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women in the context of climate change.

Applying a gender lens to climate change reveals solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Notably, systematically addressing the persistent gender gaps in the response to climate change is one of the most effective mechanisms to build climate resilience.

The climate agreement, as well as the draft decision on workstream 2, which currently is gender-blind, must reflect that gender equality, women’s empowerment and the full and equal participation of women are crucial and indispensable to transformational climate response and action. Specifically, this means a climate agreement that would have gender-specific references in the preamble, purpose, adaptation, finance and capacity-building, and technology development and transfer. The reference to gender in the latter is currently absent.

A decision on workstream 2 that also strongly incorporates gender language, including on:

  • The work of the Technology Executive Committee and the Climate Technology Centre and Network;
  • The reference to the provision of finance, technology and capacity-building in the section on Support (para.9) should be gender-responsive;
  • The section on Accelerated implementation and the reference to opportunities to enhance the provision and mobilization of finance, technology and capacity-building support to developing country Parties (paragraph 18) should ensure that these are done in gender-responsive manner;
  • Para. 35, adaptation actions requested or mandated in that paragraph must reflect a gender perspective;
  • Reflecting in the relevant mandates the need to consider the implementation of the Lima Work Programme on Gender (e.g., in paragraph 37 and 41)
  • For those who want to ask: Why do we have to do this and why now? Well, because it’s 2015! That simple. As said by the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    On a more serious note, we have to do it, and we have to do it now because we can no longer afford to dismiss and waste the potential of women’s agency and their huge role in devising and leading responses to climate impacts and actions.

    I thank you.