Hii at CSW 2011: Gender Perspectives on the Cancun (Climate) Accords

As part of our United Nations Liason Program, the Human Impacts Institute will be participating in numerous 2011 CSW side events focusing on sustainability in the upcoming weeks. Please, join us in a community conversation about the topics being discussed: What opportunities would you like to see in your community to promote women and girls’ science and technology education/training?


On Febuary 23, The Human Impacts Institute(Hii) attended the open event on gender perpectives as part of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) being held in New York City from Feb 22nd to March 4th, 2011. Entitled Gender Perspectives on the Cancun Accords: Issues & Outcomes, Role of Advocacy, Women and Climate Change Caucus, the event featured advocates of gender equality in climate change, namely Rachel Harris, Advocacy Coordinator for the Women’s Environmental & Development Organization (WEDO) and Beth Larson, Director of International Programs at Earth Day Network.

The segment presented by Ms. Harris focused mainly on the Cancun Accords and the need for references to gender in the climate change negotiation process. She highlighted the importance of addressing these issues in climate change agreements and discourse, mainly due to the feminization of poverty and the unequal status of women, both of which lead to the differences in the how climate change effects each gender. However, despite this need, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had been devoid of any reference to gender in its text. The 16th Conference of the Parties in Cancun Mexico in 2010 was therefore seen as an opportunity to address this oversight. Thus, during the Cancun conference, WEDO in particular advocated for the inclusion of gender specific language in conference texts by looking for entry points of such language, and making recommendations as to how it could be included. This advocacy work was ultimately successful, with eight references to gender being included in the final text, the first to be included in any UNFCCC document. Ms. Harris, observed, however, that unfortunately none of these references were part of the the finance section of the document, an issue that should be noted because of the importance of funds being distributed equally amongst men and women. However, despite this issue, the work done in Cancun was considered to be an achievement for recognition of gender related issues in climate change.

Next, Beth Larson spoke of her work with the Women and the Green Economy (WAGE ) campaign as part of the Earth Day Network. Launched at the UNFCCC in Cancun, this campaign is seeking to create a policy agenda for Rio +20 that promotes green energy with a focus on providing benefits and opportunities for women. She spoke of how the campaign will also look at how women are represented in policy, as currently their representation is very low, and how it will research how women can be engaged in the climate process and provide mentoring for young women professionals. Already, the campaign has caught the interest of many prominent women leaders, who are already part of the campaign.

Following these discussions, the event ended with a focus on advocacy. In order to become part of the process of advocating for the inclusion of gender-based language in agreements, participants were split into groups and given the draft agreed conclusions regarding “Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology”. In their groups, participants then made recommendations on entry points of climate change and gender language, as well as suggestions of actual new text to be included. These suggestions were then collected to be later complied and emailed back to the participants so that they could send them to their countries delegates for review, thus involving them in the process itself.

By Arianne Donar, 2011 Human Impacts Institute Education Intern

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