Often forgotten in international climate talks, women came nearer on Tuesday to making their voices heard at the UN’s 22nd conference on climate change (Cop22), after delegates adopted a decision integrating gender into climate policies.
“This convention on climate change was gender-blind and we’ve had to work very hard to get gender into it,” Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson told RFI.
“We still have to work very hard to get gender into the implementation of the Paris agreement. We’re at last getting the voices of these experts on the ground into the Cop and that will help,” she enthused.
People here are talking about gender in reference to the millions of women affected by climate change, which is especially true of the women who make up the bulk of Africa's agricultural workforce.
“The scarcity of resources means women have to walk further to fetch water or collect firewood,” explains Mariam Diallo Drame, who runs an NGO that helps women in Mali reduce the impacts of climate change.
Gap between African and Western women
However, the high-level talks at Cop22 “are still disconnected from the reality of many African women," she says.
“When you go to women talking about all this climate justice issue, they will tell you OK, the most important thing for us is to eat, is adaptation policies.
“We have so many challenges regarding poverty, health, education, simple social demands are not satisfied, so to me all this climate justice and gender and climate is going to work for the West but not for us.”
“Climate action must work for women,” insists Lakshmi Puri, the UN Women’s Deputy Executive Director.
Previous decisions adopted in Doha, such as the Doha miracle, and Lima talks which saw the adoption of a work programme on gender, suggest that climate justice is gaining traction.
Tuesday’s new treaty is likely to take that momentum forward.
“What we missed in Paris, we’re getting it now," celebrates Puri, "now, there is a three year work programme on gender and climate change which has been adopted which covers all the thematic areas including finance, technology, mitigation--which was missing in the Paris deal-- and loss and damage."
Education, though, is still needed to ensure that climate change is better understood by women in vulnerable countries and ensure they do indeed get justice.
To read our coverage of the Cop22 climate change talks click here