Investing in gender equality for transformative climate actions

Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2019

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka speaks about women in climate action at the Solutions for Implementing Gender-Responsive Climate Actions event on 22 September. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka speaks about women in climate action at the Solutions for Implementing Gender-Responsive Climate Actions event on 22 September. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Global leaders gathered in New York for the UN General Assembly announced on 23 September concrete commitments to address climate change, at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit.

The Summit aimed to ramp up ambition to meet the Paris climate agreement goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5°C. Among the commitments, there was a gender-specific initiative [also available in ES and FR] through which governments commit to clear action points to promote gender equality in the context of climate action. The President of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, and the Prime Minister of Peru, Salvador Del Solar, announced that 45 governments have signed on to the initiative.


Women’s leadership, innovation and solutions are essential to address the climate emergency. On the eve of the Climate Action Summit, at a high-level event on Solutions for Implementing Gender-Responsive Climate Actions, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka commended the governments who committed to the gender equality initiative. “These governments understand that climate change responses can only be effective if they are inclusive and take into account the contributions and voice of women and girls,” she said.

Maria Fernandez Suarez, Energy Minister of Colombia speaks at the Solutions for Implementing Gender-Responsive Climate Actions event on 22 September. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Maria Fernandez Suarez, Energy Minister of Colombia speaks at the Solutions for Implementing Gender-Responsive Climate Actions event on 22 September. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls of the Shifting the Power Coalition called for “sustained investment in the collection of evidence and in women's capacity enhancement to address power and gender relations that limit women’s engagement in climate change responses.”


Lucia Ruiz Ostoic, Minister of Environment of Peru emphasized the need to systematically engage women, including indigenous women, in developing national climate plans and policies.

Natalie Isaacs, founder of 1 Million Women, emphasized at this side-event the need to take small steps which will “lead to major lifestyle change, to finding your confidence and your voice, and to using your vote and your influence to demand more from decision-makers.” 

UN Women works to integrate women’s and girls’ rights and needs in addressing climate change and other environmental issues, such as biodiversity and land degradation/desertification. It has published a number of knowledge products including the research papers, Towards a gender-responsive implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Towards a gender-responsive implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and A manual for gender-responsive land degradation neutrality transformative projects and programmes. The publications build knowledge on how to address common gender inequalities across the areas of climate change, biodiversity, and land use and management, and to inform policies and programmes that ensure women and girls are core actors and beneficiaries.