The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March, 2022 is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” recognizing the leading role of women and girls in climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response.
WMO has long recognized that women are more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most.
At the same time, women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation. They are involved in sustainability initiatives around the world, and their participation and leadership results in more effective climate action.
" We need more women environment ministers, business leaders and presidents and prime ministers. They can push countries to address the climate crisis, develop green jobs and build a more just and sustainable world," said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
"We cannot emerge from the pandemic with the clock spinning backwards on gender equality. We need to turn the clock forward on women’s rights, " he said.
Because women possess unique knowledge and experience, particularly at the local level, their inclusion in decision-making processes is critical to effective climate action. A 2019 study found that increasing women’s representation in national parliaments leads to the adoption of more stringent climate change policies, resulting in lower emissions. At the local level, the participation of women in natural resource management is associated with better resource governance and conservation outcomes.
Expanding women’s access to productive resources can increase agricultural production and food security and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If all women smallholders received equal access to productive resources, their farm yields would rise by 20 to 30 per cent, and 100 to 150 million people would no longer go hungry. Increasing farm yields can reduce the pressure to deforest more land, reducing additional emissions, according to U.N. Women.
WMO is resolved in its efforts to achieve gender equality, empower women and build climate resilient societies. To this end, it is committed to mainstreaming gender in its governance, working structures, programmes and service delivery. It is also determined to attract more women in the fields of science and meteorology.
“Equality is on the agenda of WMO. Our challenge is that our expertise is very much based on physical and technical sciences, where the students are dominantly male. Despite of that we have encouraged female experts to participate in numerous activities of WMO, and we have seen positive development,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
“Unfortunately the impacts of climate change and following increases of disasters are felt more by females than male ones,” he said.
Many WMO programmes reflect the importance of gender equality at the centre of climate change adaptation and resilience. This means integrating diverse gender perspectives across holistic and enduring climate, environmental, and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.
As one example, the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems initiative (CREWS) recognizes that women’s empowerment is fundamental for building resilience and that men and women access, process, interpret and respond to information and warnings in different ways.
To mark the day, WMO and the Global Water Partnership with Water Youth Network held a webinar on Mainstreaming Gender into End-to-End Early Warning Systems – Flood Forecasting and Integrated Flood Management. Women occupy a central role in the management and coordination of the Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) as key target beneficiaries.
Women’s and girl’s full and equal participation in decision-making processes is a top priority in the fight against climate change. Without gender equality today, a sustainable, more equal future remains beyond our reach.