Women at COP

by Leonie Schiedek

SHE Changes Climate: 

Why we need more women at international climate negotiations 

Did you know that empowering women can lead to more effective climate solutions? 

Women represent almost 50% of the world’s population [1]. Nevertheless, women fail to be represented at the table in top-level climate discussions and negotiations [2]. Research shows, however, that women often face higher risks and are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, for instance, because of existing cultural norms, roles, and responsibilities, and that there is a need to include them in formal climate-related decision-making processes [3, 4]. At the same time, including women in governance processes can increase resilience to climate related security risks [4]. 

Also, women can have a positive impact on sustainable development. For example, In developing countries, around 43% of the agricultural labour force are women [3]. With access to the same resources as men, these women demonstrated a comparatively higher increase in their agricultural yields, contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) Zero Hunger, which can in turn have a positive effect on climate change adaptation [3]. 

However, women are more affected by climate change (e.g. through droughts and soil erosion) resulting in health, economic, and human security consequences. This is because women are marginalized from political and economic power and often have only limited access to financial and material resources [5]. Therefore, women must be included in international climate negotiations, but they also need to be empowered to lead at the national and municipal levels to serve as agents of climate change mitigation and adaptation [5].

The Paris Agreement acknowledges climate change as “a common concern of humankind. When taking action to address climate change, Parties should respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, […] , as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity” [6]. This highlights the important role of women and equality in climate change discussions once more. 

SHE Changes Climate is a non-profit organisation that aims to bring diversity and inclusiveness, transparency and accountability to the COP negotiations on Climate Change [7]. The organisation lists a large number of articles taking a closer look at why and how women need to be more widely included and represented in climate negotiations and leadership [8]. ClimaTalk has interviewed SHE Changes Climate’s co-founder, Bianca Pitt, to find out more about the organisation and the  advantages of including a greater number of women in international climate policy. Bianca further explains how SHE Changes Climate works towards achieving a 50/50 share of seats at the negotiation table. If you want to get in touch with SHE Changes Climate, write to hello@shechangesclimate.org or visit their social media channels: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sheclimate 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sheclimate/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sheclimate 

You can also check out the Women’s Earth Alliance mentioned in the interview at :  https://womensearthalliance.org/ 


[1] World Bank Data (2020). Population, female (% of total population). URL: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL.FE.ZS (last accessed: 07.07.2021)
[2] IWI (2020). The COP26 Paradox: Where are the Women?. URL: https://www.theiwi.org/gpr-reports/the-cop26-paradox-where-are-the-women (last accessed: 24.06.2021)
[3] UNFCCC (2019). 5 Reasons Why Climate Action Needs Women URL: https://unfccc.int/news/5-reasons-why-climate-action-needs-women (last accessed: 24.06.2021)
[4] Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (2020). Women Building Resilient Cities in the Context of Climate ChangeLessons from Freetown, Sierra Leone. URL: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5fbd0fcb06ee170e1048dfea/t/5fcf9724509e863c6836c6b2/1607440235620/Women-Building-Resilient-Cities.pdf (last accessed: 07.07.2021)
[5] Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (2015). Women and Climate Change. URL: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5fbd0fcb06ee170e1048dfea/t/5fcf982fb8233e30dfb1afda/1607440534738/Women-and-Climate-Change.pdf (last accessed: 07.07.2021)
[6] United Nations (2015). Paris Agreement. URL: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreement.pdf (last accessed: 25.06.2021)
[7] She Changes Climate, COP26 NEEDS 50:50 BALANCE OF WOMEN AT THE TOP, (n.d.). URL: https://www.shechangesclimate.org/ (last accessed 26/06/21)
[8] She Changes Climate (n.d.). Resources. URL: https://www.shechangesclimate.org/resources (last accessed: 25.06.2021)

Featured image sourced from She Changes Climate graphic pack.

Categories COP26

Tell us what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.