by Nadezhda Filina
Introduction: Gender Day at COP27
Just as in previous years, the 27th UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP27) features “Gender Day” as one of its thematic days, which will take place on 14th November 2022. Not only will “Gender Day” create a platform for discussion surrounding the challenges faced by women and their role in climate adaptation, but it will also aim to shed light on the progress made among gender-sensitive climate policies and other success stories . From COP17 in 2012, the topic of gender has been a key subject of the conferences. Acknowledging the unequal impact of climate crisis on different gender groups , the international community has been addressing issues at the intersection of gender equality and climate at high-level platforms such as UN Women, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Human Rights Council (UN OHCHR), alongside numerous NGOs around the world.
Why is focus on gender an essential part of climate policy?
Recent reports show there is still much to be delivered on the goals of gender-inclusive climate policies and protection of women from the drastic outcomes of the climate crisis. For instance, the September 2022 report by UN Women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) shows that women, especially from low income and marginalised communities, have suffered disproportionately from natural hazards, such as: extreme droughts–which have left 18.4 million people at risk of starvation; and serious flooding–which has negatively impacted around 7.2 million people . The struggle of women in the face of the climate crisis exacerbates pre-existing inequalities in many countries and communities. The UNFCCC outlines the impact of extreme weather events on pressuring women and girls to perform more difficult household activities, such as: travelling long distances to get drinking water and firewood; or providing for their families in rural areas, while their male counterparts migrate to the urban areas which are less affected by climate change . While the examples are plenty, so is the data-based evidence that participation of women in negotiations and decision-making processes on climate protection “can result in long-lasting and effective climate-resilient policies that lead to improved social equity in general, and gender equality specifically” .
Which frameworks and pledges can we rely on?
To systematically address gender issues in the UNFCCC process, the Lima Work Programme on Gender was adopted in 2014. It foresees five priority areas for a gender-responsive climate action, covering capacity-building, participation, coherence, implementation, and monitoring . Serving as an essential framework for action upon gender-related issues of climate change, it will next be reviewed in 2024. Time is of the essence, however, for the underrepresentation of women in committees and delegations during COP26 showed once more how much there is still to be done on the matter .
During COP26, several states made pledges for strategic and transformative actions for women, ranging from promoting women’s engagement in designing sustainable development projects in Bolivia, to including gender in all climate policies in Sweden . Moreover, COP26 addressed another vital but often overlooked issue of gender-focused climate finance. Thus, the UK pledged to provide £165 million to tackle climate change while addressing inequalities, and spent £45 million on empowering local communities and grassroots women’s groups, and £120 million on resilience and supporting women’s leadership .
What to expect from COP27?
A focus on inclusion and enablers for action will be in the general framework of COP27 . As such, mobilising support for women as enablers for inclusive climate policies will likely play a vital role in the negotiations and the decision-making processes at the conference. Equally, this will be of importance for addressees of the adopted measures and the recipients of financial support. The programme for “Gender Day” focuses on women’s agency, perspectives, and voices on various levels. Gender-responsive climate policy is, however, an intersectional issue. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how such gender thematics are considered beyond the “Gender Day” negotiations, and throughout the COP27 agenda. Given the Egyptian Presidency’s emphasis on the implementation of already existing pledges, one could hope that gender-related climate goals and pledges from previous years will be given a push for a more strict application.
 COP27 Presidency, ‘Presidency Vision’, URL: https://cop27.eg/#/presidency/events [Accessed 8 October 2022].
 UN Women, 2022, ‘Explainer: How gender inequality and climate change are interconnected’, URL: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/explainer/2022/02/explainer-how-gender-inequality-and-climate-change-are-interconnected [Accessed 8 October 2022].
 UN Women, DESA, 2022, ‘Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2022’, URL: https://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2022/09/progress-on-the-sustainable-development-goals-the-gender-snapshot-2022 [Accessed 8 October 2022].
 UNFCCC, 2022, ‘New Report: Why Climate Change Impacts Women Differently Than Men’, URL: https://unfccc.int/news/new-report-why-climate-change-impacts-women-differently-than-men [Accessed 8 October 2022].
 UNFCCC, 2022, ‘Dimensions and examples of the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change, the role of women as agents of change and opportunities for women. Synthesis report by the secretariat’, URL: https://unfccc.int/documents/494455 [Accessed 8 October 2022].
 UNFCCC, ‘The Enhanced Lima Work Programme on Gender’, URL: https://unfccc.int/topics/gender/workstreams/the-enhanced-lima-work-programme-on-gender#Priority-Area-A.-Capacity-building,-knowledge-mana [Accessed 17 October 2022]. She Changes Climate, URL: https://www.shechangesclimate.org/ [Accessed 17 October 2022].
 UN Women, ‘Press release: Bold, new commitments from around the world to put gender equality at the forefront of climate action at COP26’, URL: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/press-release/2021/11/press-release-bold-new-commitments-from-around-the-world-to-put-gender-equality-at-the-forefront-of-climate-action-at-cop26 [Accessed 17 October 2022].
 Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, The Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan A-M. MP, The Rt Hon Sharma A. MP, and Morton W. MP, 2021, ‘UK Boost to Advance Gender Equality in Climate Action’, UK Government, URL: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-boost-to-advance-gender-equality-in-climate-action#:~:text=At%20its%20COP26%20Gender%20Day,them%20to%20take%20climate%20action [Accessed 10 October 2022].