CSW66 Written Statement

NGO CSW Vienna Written Statement to 66th Commission on the Status of Women 

Gender justice and climate justice are inextricably linked. Systemic and intersectional  discrimination against women and girls threatens their human rights to life, food, water,  health, education, livelihood and safety.  

In the continuing climate crisis and as the world takes steps to recover from the COVID  pandemic, we have an unprecedented opportunity to shift paradigms and transform the  cycle of environmental destruction, economic insecurity, conflicts and violence to create  a more gender-just, sustainable and peaceful world.  

Countries must strive together and individually to uphold the goal of the Paris  Agreement to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees or lower. We must  ensure the future of people and planet, maintain biodiversity, limit habitat destruction  and reduce risks of future pandemics. The time is now.  

Women and children are at greater risk from environmental catastrophes, natural  disasters, fires, floods and excessive heat. In natural disasters, women and girls are  more at risk of drowning, often do not receive warnings, and may not be able to  escape.Women who live in coastal areas are threatened by rising sea levels may be  forced to migrate. In 2019, climate-related disasters displaced more than 30 million  people, mostly women and girls. Effects of climate change contribute to the fragility of  communities and countries, are exacerbated in conflict, and complicate efforts to  prevent conflict and sustain peace.  

Rising temperatures and increased stress lead to increasing aggression and violence in  families and communities, as well as conflicts over increasingly scarce resources. Rates of gender-based violence increase following natural disasters; policies and programmes must address risk factors in the context of disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation.  

Climate change has a greater impact on women and girls who are reliant on natural  resources for their livelihoods. Droughts, floods, fires, and soil degradation threaten the  livelihoods of rural smallholder women producers’ food security and the nutritional  status of their families and communities. Women face higher risks and greater burdens  from the impacts of the climate crisis in situations of poverty, and the majority of the  world’s poor are women. 

Women’s unequal participation in decision-making processes compounds inequalities  and often prevents women from fully contributing to climate-related planning, policy making, financing and implementation. Women have traditional knowledge, experience  and abilities in protecting and repairing the earth, families and communities, in  agriculture, conservation and natural resource management. The inclusion of women  with diverse backgrounds in climate action and decision-making is necessary for more  effective policies and programs. 

Agenda 2030 notes the specific impacts climate change has on women. Like human  rights, the Sustainable Development Goals are interlinked. Goal 5 (gender equality)  must be taken into consideration in the attainment of all other goals, including Goal 13  (climate action). 

Women’s participation at the political level has resulted in greater responsiveness to  citizen’s needs and improved outcomes of climate-related projects and policies. Guiding principles must center the well-being of all people, ensure health and safety, and  provide adequate and equitable financing. 

Women are under-represented in advancing climate justice and in natural resource and  environmental management, conservation, protection and rehabilitation, disaster  preparations and response. Women and girls must have equal access to finance,  technologies and knowledge, land rights and ownership, and access and control of  natural resources for management and protection.  

Education is vital to improve the capacity of girls and women to adapt to climate change and offer solutions and innovations. The economic stress induced by disasters and  climate change can lead to child, early and forced marriages. Girls are often taken out  of school to help with household chores, fetch water and wood, or do other work to  increase income. 

Countries in the Global North have historic responsibilities for the harms caused by  extractive economies and the systems that created the current emergency. Countries in  the Global South have contributed the least to the crisis, but are most impacted. Climate justice requires that the Global South receive fair compensation, financial support and  debt cancellation.  

Nothing less than a new paradigm is necessary: we call for an end to the exploitation of  women’s unpaid work and of undervalued natural resources, to preserve the planet and  guarantee a future for generations to come. We must have global recognition of the  human right to a healthy environment. We must divest from harm to invest in care,  centering actions on the health of people and the planet. Climate interventions must  adequately account for women’s and girls’ realities in climate crises, such as violence,  healthcare needs, and unpaid care and domestic work. 

The time is now for all United Nations Member States to take gender-responsive action  to end the climate crisis, achieve gender equality, empower women and girls, and  create a more peaceful and sustainable planet. 

The undersigned non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the  Economic and Social Council, members of NGO Committee on the Status of  Women Vienna and other partners, call upon the United Nations Member States  to

  • Accelerate and strengthen implementation of the Convention on the Elimination  of All forms of Discrimination against Women, Security Council Resolution 1325,  Agenda 2030 in particular Goal # 5 on Gender Equality, and the Convention on  the Rights of the Child; respect the Rights of Nature suggested by the UN  General Assembly´s Resolution on Harmony With Nature; 
  • Listen to women: Increase women and girls participation in decision-making and  leadership throughout climate and environmental governance and disaster  response; set up more gender-balanced governing bodies to integrate gender  sensitive climate change measures into national policies, strategies and  planning, as per SDG 13.2 and the Paris Agreement; 
  • Integrate all women and girls, including indigenous women, in decision-making  regarding sustainable resource management and the development of policies  and programmes for sustainable development; 
  • Promote the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in all policies and  programmes, including analyses of the different effects on women and men; 
  • Reduce barriers to climate financing for gender-just climate solutions, in  particular small-scale, grassroots and rural projects, and increase funding for  women-led initiatives;  
  • Increase women and girls’ access to information, education and training to  enhance their knowledge, skills and opportunities for participation in  environmental decision-making; 
  • Enhance the capacity of women and girls to build resilience to climate and  disaster risks, mitigate climate change, and address loss and damage, including  through community-based cooperative models; 
  • Ensure that climate adaptation and mitigation plans address the unique needs of  women and the barriers to women’s full participation in the economy, including childcare and elder care services, occupational segregation, informal work, the  gender pay gap, and other legal and social restrictions;
  • Increase collection of gender-disaggregated data and apply this data to policy making and monitoring of policy implementation; 
  • Integrate a gender perspective in the design and implementation of sustainable  resource management mechanisms, production techniques and infrastructure  development in rural and urban areas;  
  • Support women’s equal access to safe water and sustainable and affordable  energy technologies, such as wind, solar and other renewable sources, through  participatory needs assessments, energy planning and policy formulation at the  local and national levels; 
  • Take into account human rights and the empowerment of women and girls in  defining and implementing gender-responsive national climate action plans; 
  • Protect, fund and support women’s civil society organizations, women human  rights and environmental defenders; uphold the principles of climate justice  agreed to in the Paris Agreement and ensure that the most marginalized groups  do not bear the brunt of the climate crisis; 
  • Include women in the development of disaster preparedness and response plans that recognize the needs of women and girls; prioritize their health and safety;  and include responses to gender-based violence; 
  • Transfer funding from military procurement expenditures into investments in  peace to enable a better world for all people on a healthy, sustainable planet. 

Signed by the following non-governmental organizations in consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council:  

African Action on AIDS 

African Women’s Organization 

European Union of Women 

Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas 

Graduate Women International 

International Association of Democratic Lawyers 

International Council of Jewish Women 

International Council of Women 

International Federation of Business and Professional Women 

International Inner Wheel 

Pax Romana 

Servas International 

Socialist International Women 

Soroptimist International

Verein Südwind Entwicklungspolitik  

Vienna Institute for Development and Cooperation Women’s Federation for World Peace International Women’s International Zionist Organization World Union for Progressive Judaism 

Zonta International