Gender in the climate negotiations – moving from a side issue to a common thread

Stéphane Pouffary and Heather Rogers, ENERGIES 2050

Two years ago in Doha, COP18 adopted decisions that marked an important shift in the consideration of gender within the climate negotiations. Until then, questions regarding gender were side-lined to the ‘Other matters’ section of the agenda, therefore lacking an official space for discussion. So what’s new for Lima? ENERGIES 2050 believes that it is time to rethink gender not as a side issue but as an integral part of the solutions for tackling climate change.

The 2012 Doha conference adopted a decision specifically focusing on promoting gender balance and improving the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and in the representation of Parties. Whether a comprehensive framework and work programme on gender will be established to help implement this decision remains under discussion. Since Doha, a regular slot in the agenda of the COP has been allocated to gender and climate change, thus creating a dedicated space for discussion. In Lima, a workshop showcasing women’s leadership on climate action will be held, as well as a high-level event on gender and climate change, as part of ‘Gender day’ on Tuesday 9th December.

So how well is the consideration of gender equality being integrated into the climate negotiations? In regards to the UNFCCC itself, the proportion of women in different bodies and country delegations is now monitored. Under the topics addressed by the UNFCCC, gender-sensitive approaches are gradually gaining attention – for example in work programmes on adaptation – but such discussions need to be transformed into concrete decisions and practices.

These developments since Doha stem from the overall agreement among Parties that gender equality and ensuring women’s human rights are necessary to effectively act on climate change. As the negotiations opened in Lima, civil society representatives speaking on behalf of the Women and Gender Constituency called for a decision regarding gender and climate change that encourages gender-sensitive climate policy. They also call for gender equality to be included as a guiding principle in the text of the new climate agreement.

ENERGIES 2050 – an NGO based in France and working internationally on the transition towards a sustainable, equitable future – believes that it is important to recognise gender as a cross-cutting issue and therefore a consideration for all the different aspects of climate change action, including mitigation, adaptation, finance and capacity building. The same is of course true for the wider sustainable development agenda, which can only succeed in consultation and with the involvement of all actors, and certainly not without the participation of women.

In October 2013, a new Francophone network for gender equality was founded – the ‘Réseau francophone pour l’éaglité Femme-Homme’ – under the International Organisation of la Francophonie (an institution gathering 77 members from five continents). This network was initiated by representatives from more than twenty countries, with the common goal of contributing to the promotion of gender equality and to the empowerment of women. As a member of the network, ENERGIES 2050 very much shares this vision and the consideration of gender equality is an integral part of our mission and activities. We all know that women play a key role in the move towards sustainable development. For example, it makes no sense to keep discussing family farming in the negotiations if we ignore the issues of land ownership for women as well as income generating activities and education for women and girls.

So whether we look to the UNFCCC negotiations and international climate policy, or to mitigation and adaptation activities on the ground, gender equality and women’s human rights need to be systematically taken into account, as a common thread and very much an integral part of these different activities – and certainly not as an add-on, or even worse, an afterthought.


ENERGIES 2050 is a non-profit non-governmental organisation (NGO) working on the ‘Great Transition’ towards a more humane, plural and united society, bringing peace and respecting the common goods of humanity.

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Gender and climate change – UNFCCC:

The Francophone network for gender equality:

ENERGIES 2050 at the COP 20: