Pakistan’s climate policies paying attention to the plight of women

UN Commission for Status of Women reaffirms females’ leadership to address climate change

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UNITED NATIONS, The 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) — the second largest UN intergovernmental meeting in New York—ended its two-week-long session Friday, acknowledging the important role of women and girls as agents of change for sustainable development, in particular safeguarding the environment and addressing the adverse effects of climate change.

Pakistan’s delegation to the Commission was led by Nilofar Bakhtiar, who is the chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW).

During the course of the session, she told delegates from around the world that Pakistani women were playing a role in all walks of life.

“We see women CEOs, footballers, swimmers, climbers, fighter pilots – women are everywhere, and in every walk of life,” she added.

Bakhtiar said Pakistan’s climate policies were paying attention to the plight of women and gender differentials that emerged from climate change and the vastly different experiences men and women had as workers, breadwinners, caregivers, patients and parents through climate-induced stress.

According to an official statement, the agreed conclusions adopted by Member States are a blueprint for world leaders to promote women’s and girls’ full and equal participation and leadership in the designing and implementation of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies and programmes moving forward.

“The agreements reached by the Commission come at a point when the world urgently needs new and coherent solutions to the interlocking crises that impact us all,” said Sima Bahous, the executive director of UN Women, the entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

“We now have a pathway with practical, specific measures for global resilience and recovery, and a shared understanding that solutions depend on bringing women and girls to the centre. Let’s capitalize on the work done here, put these agreements into immediate practice and move these decisions forward through all the major forums ahead, including COP27.

The statement said CSW66 recognized with concern the disproportionate impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters on all women and girls that can include loss of homes and livelihoods, water scarcity, destruction and damage to schools and health facilities, and stressed the urgency of eliminating persistent historical and structural inequalities, discriminatory laws and policies, negative social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.

As a result of displacement, including forced and prolonged displacement, women and girls face specific challenges, including separation from support networks, increased risk of all forms of violence, and reduced access to employment, education, and essential health-care services, including sexual and reproductive health-care services, and psychosocial support.

The Commission also expressed concern that the economic and social fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic had compounded the impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters and had pushed people behind and into extreme poverty.

The global pandemic had also increased the demand for unpaid care and domestic work and reported incidents of all forms of violence.

The Commission called on the United Nations system, international financial institutions and multi-stakeholder platforms to continue supporting Member States to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.

Only by addressing the underlining barriers that exacerbate women’s and girls’ vulnerabilities in their social and economic status, safety, well-being and livelihoods, will it be possible to tackle the pervasive disadvantages in access to, ownership of and control over land and resources; equal access to services such as universal healthcare and quality education, gender-based violence prevention; and the equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work which hampers women’s resilience and rights.

The outcome document calls for leveraging and strengthening the full, equal and meaningful participation and influence of women and girls. Specific efforts must be made to amplify the voices and knowledge of marginalized women, including indigenous women, older women, women with disabilities, migrant women and those living in rural, remote, conflict and disaster-prone areas. Their inputs must be heard and included in the management, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives and programmes.

Initiatives to address climate change, environmental and disaster and risk reduction must consider the following:

— Promoting women’s and girls’ full and equal participation and leadership to make natural resource management and climate, environment and disaster risk action more effective;

— Expanding gender-responsive finance at scale for climate and environment action and to reach women’s organizations, enterprises and cooperatives, and

— Building women’s resilience in the context of agricultural and food systems, forest and fisheries management and the sustainable energy transition, and,

— Enhancing gender statistics and sex-disaggregated data in the gender-environment nexus; and fostering gender-responsive just transitions.

The Commission also emphasized the mutually reinforcing relationship among achieving gender equality and the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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