Glasgow Women’s Leadership on Gender Equality and Climate Change
The Glasgow Women's Leadership on Gender Equality and Climate Change convened a panel of female heads of government from around the world to discuss the gendered impacts of climate change and the importance of women’s leadership in addressing climate change. Taking place on the sidelines of the second day of the World Leaders’ Summit at COP 26, this high-level panel launched the Glasgow Women’s Leadership Statement, signed by leaders from governments, intergovernmental organizations, businesses, and civil society. The Statement aims to increase ambition through increased financing, broadened partnerships, and advocacy. Welcoming the dedicated agenda item under the UNFCCC on gender and climate change and the five-year enhanced Lima Work Programme on Gender, the Statement encourages countries to pledge action under the UN Secretary-General’s initiative on Gender and Climate Change and the Feminist Action for Climate Justice action collation under the Generation Equality Forum.
This Multilevel Action Pavilion at COP 26 event was convened by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, in its capacity as the Focal Point for the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency to the UNFCCC and UN Women, and hosted by the Scottish Government. The event highlighted:
- the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and girls;
- the importance of women in leadership roles to address climate change at all levels of government; and
- opportunities for collaboration to build and sustain momentum for gender balanced leadership for climate action with the Glasgow Women’s Leadership Statement.
Sima Bahous, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, via video, called on women leaders to sign the Glasgow Women’s Leadership Statement. She highlighted the gendered impacts of climate change as well as the critical importance of women and girls fully participating in climate solutions. She emphasized that gender balanced leadership increases our joint effectiveness to achieve global carbon emission reductions and sustainable development.
Moderator Kavita Naidu, human rights lawyer, Fiji, welcomed the panel of women leaders, who she said represent climate vulnerable countries, and invited them to share their experiences in gender responsive climate action. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, discussed work to ensure gender balance and emphasized the need to prioritize the voice of women “across all that we do.” She explained that the Glasgow Women’s Leadership Statement was created with the aim of recognizing both the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and the need to amplify and support women to lead with creative solutions.
Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of Tanzania, highlighted the critical role women play in Tanzania, and shared how the involvement of women in decision making and development in both the National Climate Response Strategy Plan and Tanzania’s Nationally Determined Contribution ensure that women are part of the solution.
Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia, lamented that of the 140 leaders present at COP 26, only 10 are women. Noting this is “a big problem,” she called for a more balanced representation in decision making. She welcomed the call for action on gender equality and called for more women to be elected to leadership positions.
Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, reiterated how women and children are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to structural inequalities in human societies. She described efforts in Bangladesh to create space for women to contribute to climate solutions and sustainable development, highlighting that her country’s National Adaptation Programme of Action has incorporated and addressed gender comprehensively.
The panel then discussed how to effectively amplify global solidarity to mobilize gender responsive action. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed that we can learn from and support each other while building links so that in the future “a photograph of world leaders looks different than it does today.” President Samia Suluhu Hassan agreed and underscored that “as few as we are, we can raise our voice so the world can hear.” Prime Minister Kaja Kallas emphasized that women should be considered part of the solution. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina added that this must happen in concrete ways, citing efforts to mainstream gender in all policies and decision-making processes, as well as to maintain a dedicated allocation in national budgets for the empowerment of women.
Nicola Sturgeon officially launched the Glasgow Women’s Leadership Statement, inviting signatories to join her in committing to empower women’s voices and leadership to address climate change. The Statement will remain open to additional signatures until the sixty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which will take place from 14 to 25 March 2022.
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