Women must be at the heart of climate talks - Minister
Climate disruption/International Women’s Day – Article by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
Paris, 7 March 2015
Acting for the climate, for and with women
2015 will be decisive for our planet: in December, the goal of COP21 in Paris will be to reach a global agreement enabling climate warming to be limited to 2ºC. On International Women’s Day, I want to emphasize an important point: promoting equality between women and men can contribute to the success of this negotiation, and conversely, success for COP21 would help reduce those inequalities.
Why? First of all, women are the first victims of climate disruption, because people in situations of poverty, who are the most vulnerable, suffer the bulk of the consequences. And women make up 70% of poor people worldwide. So they are and will be the first people affected.
According to the UN, when a natural disaster hits a region, the risk of death is 14 times higher for women, chiefly because they are not priority targets for disaster alert and prevention systems.
Climate disruption also increases the pressure on women, who in many regions are responsible for providing their families with food, water and fuel. The impact of climate disruption on soil fertility, on the availability of water resources, and therefore on food security in developing countries exerts greater pressure on women. Another worrying factor: those pressures create excessive workloads for households, and this often leads to girls dropping out of school.
The conclusion is simple: combating climate disruption also means fighting for women’s rights.
As the first victims of this disruption, women are often the main providers of solutions too. Development experts emphasize that a programme conceived without taking women into account is less effective than the same programme planned with them. Exactly the same logic applies to actions to combat climate disruption, which constitute development programmes. In Rwanda, the programme set up by UN Women five years ago – which seeks to encourage women’s participation in 15 cooperatives in the Kirehe region – has led to a marked increase in agricultural output and in the spread of particularly climate-friendly production techniques.
Another specific example: the reforestation campaign in Kenya launched, with the support of her country’s inhabitants, by Wangari Maathai – the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize – has shown the importance of the role of women in the transition to more sustainable development.
From all this, I take away one certainty: that women must be placed at the heart of national and local strategies to combat climate disruption, and at the heart of the international negotiations on the subject.
As future president of COP21 in Paris, I shall make sure they are. The battle for the climate is a battle to be fought for and with women./.