Evolving rhetoric on gender and climate change at UNFCCC’s first Gender Day
Tuesday, November 27, 2012, marked the first official Gender Day at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar. Members of the Global Women Scholars Network had the chance to attend events that focused on the changing rhetoric in discussing women’s roles and challenges they face with regard to climate change impacts.
One event entitled, Gender and Climate Innovation: Breakthrough Changes for Gender Equality entailed a lively discussion of women scholars issues related to climate change. During the discussion, an interesting dichotomy arose among the panelists. On one side, some panelists advocated the need to place women’s struggles and inequality at the forefront of discussions on gender and climate change. However, others posited that the continuing to highlight women’s unique struggles have become redundant. These speakers cited the need to move on, and focus more on solving the issues. The other aspect of the new dialogue about advancing to the next step also discussed incorporating men into discussions about gender. The term “gender” often carries the connotation of discussions focused on women. The UNFCCC Gender Day supported this assumption with panels solely comprised of women. Some panelists emphasized that people should keep in mind that men also play a critical role in strengthening community resilience and adaptation to climate change. The world cannot solve environmental crises with half the population: balance is the key.
However, in seeking balance, people should not discount the inordinate burden that women face when coping with climate change challenges, such as food and water security and lack of access to decision-making positions within their own communities (56th Commission on the Status of Women). Those advocating for change did not discount women’s struggles, but rather, called for an end to repetitive discussions, in favor of increased action, as well as getting more men on board with gender-related climate change discussions.