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International Women’s Day Highlights Climate and Gender Links

women-day-logo8 March 2014: The world celebrated International Women's Day in 2014 under the theme, 'Equality for women is progress for all.' Several organizations and individuals stressed linkages between gender and climate change in their remarks.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said “women are a powerful yet untapped resource in the global effort to meet the challenge of climate change.” She highlighted the 2012 Doha Climate Gateway's decision to promote gender equality in UNFCCC negotiating bodies and the Momentum for Change initiative, which “shines a light on women rising to meet the climate challenge.”

In an editorial, Figueres explained women “bear the brunt” of climate change in places where impacts are felt most significantly. For instance, she said many small-scale farmers are women whose crops may fail due to flooding, drought or soil erosion. However, Figueres said women's vulnerability to climate change makes them vital to climate change action. Figueres recommended, inter alia: reducing unsustainable consumption patterns and investing in products that support low-carbon development; supporting women's leadership in climate activities; and enabling technology transfer to developing countries for renewable energy and sustainable transportation.

Climate change, gender equality and food security must “go hand-in-hand” for development to be sustainable, declared Mary Robinson, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, at an event at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in Rome, Italy. She described the absence of laws protecting women's rights as a barrier to achieving sustainable development, particularly in the face of climate change, pointing to discrimination in accessing, owning and controlling land. She called for the UN Climate Summit to address gender equality, agriculture, the rule of law, sustainable development and climate justice.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched a report, ‘The Gender Advantage: Women on the front line of climate change,' which describes case studies of women who supported their families and communities due to gender-sensitive adaptation. It emphasizes how, when adaptation targets specific challenges faced by women smallholder farmers, they can deliver economic and social benefits and improve incomes and yields.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Assistant-Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova encouraged more women to become meteorologists and hydrologists, noting “there are still too few women" in key WMO positions.

International Women's Day aims to provide a day of reflection on the progress made by women around the world, to celebrate acts of courage and determination by women and to call for further action and change. [Figueres Statement] [Figueres Editorial] [UNFCCC Gender and Climate Change Website] [WMO Press Release] [IFAD Press Release] [The Gender Advantage: Women on the front line of climate change] [Robinson Statement] [IISD RS Story on International Women's Day]