Gender and Climate Change

Early this afternoon Iceland hosted an interesting session on gender and climate change. The basic thesis of it is that women must be included at the group at the table at all levels because women have different experiences with climate change. Their argument is this is because women make up the largest section of the worlds poor, and climate change will effect things like agriculture and water among other things which are of pivotal importance to those women.The first presenter is from Ghana, to explain their approach to including women in climate change discussions. In Ghana 70% of agriculture is produced by women and 53% of fish provided by women. Meaning any changes in these sectors has a huge impact on women aside from the obvious impact it has on the economy. They also have women’s groups who have taken responsibility for restoring and conserving forests.An interesting point the presenter made was that women are the one’s in the best position to help with population control. One of the concerns here this week has been the impact of the worlds ever-growing population on climate change.She concluded by saying that if these negotiations were being conducted by women that the deal would have been done already. It got a big laugh from the room, and goes back to the idea that the involvement of women in politics would make the whole process run more smoothly. I’m still not sure if I completely buy into that idea.The second presenter was male and also from Ghana. He was a government official and went through the different committees they have on climate change, from communications to reforestation/forest restoration to agriculture, etc. and how they ensured that there was equal representation of men and women. Also, a number of committees have women as their president, and any with a male president have a women as a vice president (and visa-versa). Apparently a key member of their negotiating team is their female vice-president who has been at COP-15 since the kick off last week. He concluded by making the point that they are working to increase the number of women on their negotiation team for future COP meetings. It’s very interesting to hear all the effort they are going into to get a 50/50 male/female split as much as possible when in Canada it’s a big deal that the Liberals are only ensuring that 33% of their candidates are women.The final presenter was from an organization that deals with gender equality and women in climate change with a really long name that I didn’t entirely catch. She spent a while talking about how women are negatively effected by natural disaster, with examples, before stating that unfortunately women are often the ones with the solutions on climate change but are less likely to be involved in working on the solutions. She then touched on the same issue that the first presenter did regarding population control and women’s role in that, also pushing the important tie between that issue and educating women.At the moment gender equity has been included on the (very long) draft document that is currently being negotiated. It will be very interesting to see if that makes it into the final agreed-on document.Before the Q&A session started the general conclusion was given that gender equality and women’s involvement with climate change matters go hand-in-hand. It’s certainly a very interesting point, and overall a very interesting session, though I think it is more applicable to African and other third-world nations than developed countries.