Check against delivery
Climate change has much wider consequences than its most visible effects on the weather and the environment. It acts as an enabling agent for crises, exacerbating inequalities, compounding intersecting forms of discrimination and aggravating existing tensions and conflict situations.
Women are disproportionately affected by climate change and by its social, economic and environmental consequences. In many parts of the world, women are highly involved in small-scale agriculture activities. They are also responsible for securing food, water and energy for themselves and their families. Women have a profound knowledge of the land and of the surrounding natural resources, they are depositary of traditional practices of sustainable management and of techniques to improve resource productivity. As such, they lay at the heart of climate-resilient solutions.
At the same time, women often lack access to land, natural resources, funding and technologies. It is crucial that we address gender inequality and promote women’s empowerment in climate action in order to effectively address the consequences of climate change.
Mainstreaming gender equality is essential to achieve the overarching goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. Promoting gender-responsive climate solutions seems to me implying a reflection on three main policy areas.
First, human rights. Women living in poverty face gender-related, social and economic discriminatory barriers that limit their equal access to education and information, capital, property, ownership of land and productive resources, health care, employment and social protection. These same barriers increase their exposure to the negative effects of climate change and disasters. Last November Italy has signed the Geneva Pledge for human rights in climate action and is committed to working together in order to deliver responses to climate change that are good for people and for the planet.
Second, participation. Too often women have not been provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the conceptualization, development, implementation and monitoring of local, national, regional and international policies, strategies and programmes on climate change and disaster risk reduction.
We need to develop frameworks to ensure that women’s voice is taken into account within participatory decision-making and stakeholders involvement activities, so that gender considerations are fully integrated into climate strategies and actions which are effective and implementable. We should also encourage the creation of networks of women and promote their active participation in political and social life at various levels.
The Women for Expo Alliance, launched during the recent EXPO 2015 in Milan, is aimed for example at promoting the role and contribution of women in agriculture, notably by addressing the shortcomings of land and inheritance rights, access to financial and technological resources, the creation of social protection systems, services and infrastructures, and, ultimately, the elimination of gender discrimination.
Third, education, training and capacity-building. Investing in women’s education and ensuring that their knowledge and competences in the sustainable management of natural resources are enhanced and shared can minimize the negative impact of environmental degradation and climate change at the local level. Italian development cooperation programmes aim at empowering women in rural areas and address gender discrimination at the local level, while promoting comprehensive policies to support women at the national level.
These are fundamental and paradigmatic shifts which may take some time to be fully implemented. But we need to take action now. I wish you a fruitful discussion on how to continue to mobilise political support and explore options for effective climate actions which are also gender-responsive.