Women are strong agents of change essential to bringing solutions to climate change

11 Jul 2011

The gender dimensions of climate change were the focus of a workshop UNDP hosted in June in Pretoria, South Africa. Bringing together a wide range of stakeholders from government, the private sector, NGOs and academia, the workshop highlighted the best responses to the disproportionate effect on women and girls of the impacts of climate change.

While shifts in the environment affect everyone, they tend to impact men and women differently, more particularly in developing countries. Indeed, the UNDP Human Development Report 2007 demonstrated that women and girls are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Their traditional responsibilities as food growers, water and fuel gatherers, and caregivers connect them intimately to available natural resources and the climate, as a result making them more vulnerable to environmental disasters.

Workshop discussions focused on how UNDP is working towards strengthening the gender dimensions of national climate change policies and programs. UNDP also recognizes that women are strong agents of change and are essential to bringing solutions to climate change. During the workshop, UNDP Gender Team Director Winnie Byanyima drew special attention to the development of women’s knowledge and skills for a greener future. Janet Macharia, Gender Advisor for the  United Nations Environment Programme, made a presentation on the impact of climate change on women in Africa.

In organizing the June 23rd workshop, which was chaired by Dr. Agostina Zacharias, the UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa, UNDP collaborated with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities (DWCPD). The gender and climate change workshop forms part of UNDP’s advocacy and capacity support to the government of South Africa in view of the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP17), which will take place from 28th November to 9th December 2011 in Durban South Africa. This workshop is part of UNDP’s broader work under the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) funded by the Governments of Finland and Denmark and in partnership with UIUCN, EWEDO, and UNEP.