Women’s Commission Considers Gender Equality in Climate Change Policies

4 March 2011: The 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place at the UN Headquarters in New York, US, from 22 February-4 March 2011, under the theme "Access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women's equal access to full employment and decent work." 

At the conclusion of the session, the Commission adopted a resolution on "Mainstreaming gender equality and empowerment of women in climate change policies and strategies" (E/CN.6/2011/L.1), expressing concern that the adverse impacts of climate change on women and girls, including indigenous peoples, could be exacerbated by gender inequality and discrimination. The resolution calls on governments to: integrate a gender perspective into their environmental and climate change policies; and provide adequate resources to ensure women's full and equal participation in decision making at all levels on environmental issues. The resolution urges governments, in their efforts to deal with climate change, to encourage women's equal participation in training and capacity building, and to integrate a gender component into their periodic reporting as States parties to the UNFCCC.

The representative from the Russian Federation noted that although his delegation would not break consensus, the negotiations were not objective and the final draft resolution did not reach a balanced approach. He indicated objection to preambular text due to the lack of evidence that the adverse impacts of climate change on women and girls can be exacerbated by inequality and discrimination. He also objected to an operative paragraph, noting that it exemplified a selective approach to the issue in the context of the UNFCCC.

The representative of Venezuela expressed concern that some paragraphs in the resolution changed and distorted the nature of the 1995 Beijing Declaration, in particular as it refers to the chapter on women and the environment. She also expressed concern that many delegations deliberately omitted reference to the UNFCCC, noting that in order to address climate change, the participation of all countries in respect to their differentiated responsibilities was required and, in that context, gender perspective could be included.

Due to ongoing negotiations on its agreed conclusions, the Commission was forced to suspend its work. The Commission is expected to resume its session in the course of March at a time and date to be announced, to complete action on all outstanding issues. [55th Session of Commission on Status of Women Website] [UN ECOSOC Press Release, 4 March] [Document E/CN.6/2011/L.1]