Promoting gender balance and the empowerment of women in the UNFCCC process

Highlights from 7 June event "Promoting gender balance and the empowerment of women in the UNFCCC process" organized by UN Women, MRFCJ, GGCA, and UNFCCC Secretariat.

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  1. On 7 June 2013, GGCA in partnership with UN Women, MRFCJ, and UNFCCC, cohosted a side event during the climate talks in Bonn focusing on the "Miracle of Doha" more commonly known as the COP 18 Gender Decision.  Panelists and participants shared insights and discussed efforts to  strengthen gender balance, enhance the empowerment of women in the UNFCCC process, and advance gender-sensitive climate policy. 
  2. Rob Bradley, United Arab Emirates (UAE), moderator of the event, spontaneously invited Ambassador Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa, to share opening remarks.  Praising the work done toward gender in Doha, she noted that we should stay focused on the issue of women in climate change and empowerment of women in UNFCCC process.  Ambasssador Diseko shared that when you give women an opportunity, they deliver. They bring a perspective that is not adversarial but in interest of common good.  
  3. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, joined the discussion with great energy and a fresh focus that now is the time to really do something concrete regarding gender and move beyond words to action. However, she was quick to note that it is not about having a gender day or beautifully inspiring book, but using all efforts as a means to an end.  The result, of course, being gender sensitive policy that is differentiated to enable and empower men and women to both contribute to the solution.  Although the call for policy comes at the global level, application must be done at the country level.  
  4. Verona Collantes, UN Women, shared a new report produced in collaboration with MRFCJ. “The Full View: Advancing the Goal of Gender Balance in Multilateral and Intergovernmental Processes is based on follow up work from the COP 18 gender decision adopted in Doha. The publication is but a small step but helps to lay some foundation informed by evidence towards a goal of advancing gender balance.  She emphasized that gender balance will not lead to gender equality or gender sensitive climate policy alone but that structural bases of inequalities must be addressed as well.
  5. Aleksandra Blagojević, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), began with a "gender balance approach is an essential element of democracy."  However, she stressed that quotas are the primary solution but adopted as a necessary temporary measure for IPU because equal participation was not happening naturally.  Recommended measures that enhance gender equality include 1) giving women official space to provide concerns with secretariat support, 2) have figures in place, 3) establish a monitoring body, 4) ensure affirmative measures, 5) make them reflective in organizational rules & processes, and 6) secure buy-in by all.  Importantly, Ms. Blagojevic emphasized that although quotas have effect on statistics, they must be accompanied with awareness raising, training, and gender sensitive practices.
  6. Lorena Aguilar, IUCN, announced that the fun has just begun!  Those working in gender and climate change have come a long way within UNFCCC.  With only 1 decision regarding women's participation in 2007, there is now a force behind it.  Yet she was sincere in the challenges ahead, "We have a long way to transformation of change, we have to implement!"  Ms. Aguilar warned participants to avoid complacency and ensure accountability and voiced her view on the COP 18 Gender Decision: it is an important milestone with incredible opportunities that will help us create a blue print and that hopefully will be backed up by financial mechanisms.