WMO joins the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day. This year’s theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the gaps that remain.
Women’s full and effective participation and leadership in of all areas of life drives progress for everyone. Yet, women are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making, as revealed in the UN Secretary-General’s recent report. Women are Heads of State or Government in 22 countries, and only 24.9 per cent of national parliamentarians are women. At the current rate of progress, gender equality among Heads of Government will take another 130 years.
International Women’s Day takes place every year on 8 March. To mark the occasion, WMO published a special case study on Women in the Flash Flood Guidance system project.
“For its part, WMO has achieved considerable progress in advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women, with consistent and focused efforts on increasing the involvement of women in governance and decision-making,” says WMO Deputy Secretary-General Dr Elena Manaenkova. “We are also striving to increase understanding of the differentiated impacts of extreme weather and climate change on women and men and to respond with gender-sensitive hydro-meteorological services,” she says.
A gender side event at WMO’s recent Services Commission meeting highlighted progress and challenges, as shown in this video recording.
Facilitating factors for the positive outcomes achieved included:
- A concrete target: A 40% target on female participation in constituent body working structures was approved by the World Meteorological Congress in 2019 as part of an updated WMO Gender Action Plan.
- Targeted investment in female leadership: Several technical commissions organized Women’s Leadership Workshops for female delegates to their meetings. WMO analysis demonstrated that an 11%-20% increase in female representation was registered at constituent body sessions coupled with such workshops.
- Making gender equality relevant to all: The benefits of diversity and gender equality were made centerpiece to the WMO Gender Action Plan, with an emphasis on their positive effect for modern organizations in terms of performance, governance, innovation, and employee satisfaction. WMO also took a deliberate approach of framing gender equality as an issue concerning both women and men. –
- Gender champions (both male and female): the leadership and voice of key figures in the WMO community (presidents and vice-presidents of technical commissions, EC members), was key to mobilizing action and raising the profile of gender as a topic of discussion. Overall, whenever there had been targeted action on behalf of WMO constituent bodies to increase female participation, tangible results were achieved.
In her statement for International Women's Day (8 March), UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: "We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all."
Fig 1. Moderator: Ian Lisk (SERCOM President), Facilitator: Bárbara Tapia (SERCOM Gender Focal Point), Speakers: Elena Mateescu (Romania), Natacha Bernier (Canada), Hwirin Kim (WMO Secretariat), Claudia Ribero (Argentina), Fatima Driouech (Morocco), Jitsuko Hasegawa (Japan)