Joint NGO Oral Statement Panel discussion on women’s rights and climate change: climate action, best practices and lessons learned

Image - joint oral statement HRC 2019.PNG

It is clear that climate change is a women’s rights issue and that climate impacts are not gender neutral - women will suffer adverse climate change impacts disproportionately, due to pre-existing, intersecting discrimination and gendered roles and stereotypes. Women are adversely affected because they make up the majority of the poor, they are more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change, they have unequal access to resources and decision-making processes and they often have limited mobility due to their care-giving roles. Development actors have warned that unabated global warming will further impoverish women and, particularly the poorest and women in developing countries, and will set back progress on poverty reduction and substantive equality. Gender-blind climate responses also risk entrenching gender inequalities and harming women’s rights.

Therefore swift and ambitious mitigation action is required to protect women’s rights and fulfil State’s commitments under the CEDAW Convention. This year offers an important opportunity to demonstrate States’ commitment to ambitious climate action and gender equality - with the Secretary General’s Climate Summit and in the context of the updating of Nationally Determined Contributions.

Women should not be seen as merely victims of climate change. They are also agents of change and a vital part of the solution to the climate crisis. The traditional knowledge held by rural women and indigenous women, provides an important contribution to natural resource and environment management and climate resilience. Women are also key contributors to the economy and therefore important drivers of the transformation to a low-carbon society. Women’s knowledge and contributions must be acknowledged and harnessed to give our planet the greatest chance of arresting climate change.

The participation and leadership of women and girls, at all levels of climate decision-making, is crucial to understanding impacts and designing effective and sustainable responses and solutions to climate change, and to further advance the realisation of women’s rights.  This includes the participation of women human rights defenders, social movements, rural and local communities, and requires that States promote a safe and enabling environment in which individuals and groups working to combat climate change can operate free from violence, threats, censorship and insecurity.

Finally, we want to acknowledge the leadership of CEDAW and congratulate it on its General Recommendation 37 which provides valuable guidance to States and other stakeholders on States’ obligations under the Convention in the context of climate change and disaster risk reduction.

We acknowledge also the leadership of Fiji and of the core group, Bangladesh, Philippines and Vietnam, in bringing these important issues before the Council.

 Co-sponsoring civil society organisations:

FIAN International

International Movement ATD Fourth World


Center for International Environmental Law

Franciscans International

International Service for Human Rights

International Women’s Rights Action Watch – Asia Pacific