COP26 – Disproportionate Representation

In November 2021, COP26 – the UN Climate Conference, is taking place in Glasgow, UK.

Still, 67% of decision-making roles about climate worldwide are occupied by men. This is not okay.
For COP26, the selected UK leadership team is all male, consisting of politicians and civil servants, such as Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab. This contributes to the shocking lack of women within the COP26 leadership team, where only 15% are women. Equal representation of women in all their diversity is necessary for the COP leadership team and for our planet.

It is incomprehensible that women are not properly represented in the senior leadership team, where the narratives and issues for COP26 will be determined when the vital role women have in addressing the climate crisis is so widely understood. It is imperative that we make sure that women’s global voices, interests and perspectives are fairly presented at a leadership level of COP26.

As countries look for recovery strategies after the devastating social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, more investment is needed to ensure gender equality and empowerment in places where peace and security are fragile.

The evidence is clear that women and girls are more vulnerable to climate change impacts. Women and girls more often face the brunt of climate-related disasters than men. They are the ‘shock absorbers’ of climate change: impacts disproportionately hit their livelihoods and food security, drive up levels of the violence they experience and hold them back from engaging in education and the green economy.

Building back better post-pandemic, with gender in mind, would aim to ensure that inequalities are addressed and violence against women comes to an end.

Women are change agents, meaning that if a change is needed, they will often be instrumental in identifying what needs to be done and then making it happen.

Climate change is a huge and existential threat, but women play a fundamental role in our fight against it. Any problems we face as a result will be easier to solve if both men and women are equally included in the solving of them.

The challenges we face today in the climate and ecological emergency are unprecedented and, as such, demand a fresh approach. The brightest minds and most imaginative problem-solvers are required to confront today’s challenges.

For their interests to be appropriately considered in climate change policy responses, women need to be involved in strategic planning and decision-making. This has been made very clear, as a priority area, in the enhanced Gender Action Plan, which the UK Government championed at COP25. The UK must lead by example, as the host of COP26 to send a clear signal to parties that the enhanced GAP must be enforced.

When women have played a decisive role in previous UN climate talks in recent times, it has resulted in bold climate action and outcomes, despite significant opposition.

Women are a powerful force to rebuild societies more securely, from providing food and shelter to generating vital income and leading sustainable change.

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