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UN Climate Action Summit

Concept of gender at heart of policies to fight climate change

Sunday 22 September 2019

Countries have endorsed this commitment by signing up to the Coalition on Social and Political Drivers, headed up by Spain, together with Peru, with a view to the Climate Action Summit in New York.

Ministerio para la Transición EcológicaThe Acting Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, presented the results of the government's work carried out with other countries to ensure their commitment to adopt national plans to fight climate change that take into account the concept of gender at a high-level event on gender and climate held at the United Nations headquarters.

Furthermore, those countries that have joined the coalition undertake to improve their figures and assess progress in the dimension of gender, and to back initiatives that boost the participation and leadership of women and girls in the field of mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The responses to climate change "require a focus on gender" underlined the acting minister, because "we know that women and girls are those most exposed to the impacts of climate change, and that they are under-represented in decision-making to combat this, hence this initiative for their empowerment and to bring down the barriers to their participation in sectors that are key to resolving this, such as energy, healthcare, agriculture and education".


It is broadly acknowledged that climate change particularly affects the most vulnerable and those with the least capacity to tackle this, particularly in developing countries. It is a threat to development and a very important cause of inequality, both globally and within individual countries.

In general, women and girls suffer from greater risks and burdens associated with climate change, due to situations of poverty, but also to the roles associated with gender and cultural norms and customs.

This reality should be closely taken into account, implementing climate policies that incorporate the concept of gender and which respond to the specific needs of women and their particular vulnerabilities.

Along this line, "investing in gender equality and in the empowerment of women and girls means investing in effective policies to improve environmental conservation, reduce poverty and ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are met and the Paris Agreement is complied with. Woman must be at the heart of the ecological transition", claimed Teresa Ribera.

Growth in sectors that need transforming

Ministerio para la Transición EcológicaThe acting minister stressed the need for the presence of women to grow in those economic sectors that need transforming, and that are male-dominated sectors in general, such as the energy sector, where women only account for 5% of the management boards of the 200 largest electricity countries in the world, according to studies.

This gap extends to many other key sectors in the decarbonised world we are striving for (research and innovation, and industry), and hence the importance of investing in education, training and empowerment plans to bring down the barriers that make the leadership of women more difficult in all these sectors.

A commitment being consolidated

Teresa Ribera stressed that "the highly positive response we have seen from those countries that have signed up to the initiative we present on Monday clearly shows that a strong commitment is being consolidated to work on the empowerment of women and girls in their leadership, which is fundamental to combat climate change".

After receiving this commission from the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, to head up this initiative with a view to the Climate Action Summit in New York, the Government of Spain set up an inter-ministerial working group made up of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and for Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Well-being, in addition to the Ministry for Ecological Transition.

Coalition on Social and Political Drivers

In order to prepare for the Climate Action Summit, the United Nations identified new areas of action relating to particularly important sectors in the fight against climate change and commissioned certain countries, international organisations and other parties to coordinate each of them. Spain, together with Peru, was commissioned with facilitating the commitment and action relating to three of these pillars: just transition and green jobs, health and air quality, and gender, three key issues for attaining climate justice.

Over the recent months of work, Peru and Spain, with the collaboration of such bodies as the WHO and the ILO, gathered commitments from countries, cities, organisations, companies and other stakeholders to activate policies in the three aforesaid areas.

Non official translation