WMO strengthens gender action plan

WMO strengthens gender action plan



2 June 2023

The World Meteorological Organization has updated its Gender Action plan to pursue gender equality in WMO governance, strategy, programmes and decision-making.

The World Meteorological Congress approved a resolution reaffirming the goal of “achieving gender equality and building resilience through the provision of gender-sensitive weather, hydrological and climate services which respond to the specific needs and socioeconomic circumstances of women and men.”

It reaffirms the minimum target of at least 40% of female members of the working structures of regional associations, technical commissions and the Research Board.

Gender balance, diversity and inclusivity will be one of the priorities of WMO’s first female Secretary-General Prof. Celeste Saulo, who was appointed by Congress. She will take office on 1 January 2024.

“WMO altogether still has a long way to go,” Dr Sue Barrell, the winner of the International Meteorological Organization prize, told a gender breakfast. The event brought together more than 100 women and men from all regions for a brainstorming and networking session.

”For me success is when the word women becomes redundant. When we don’t talk about women leaders and scientists any more, we just talk about leaders and scientists,” said Dr Barrell. 

“The challenge starts at home, and it’s especially timely for Members to accelerate efforts to create the diverse and inclusive workforce needed now and into the future to better serve our shared mission, and to ensure that the information shared with users genuinely reflects their needs. It’s not just about being fair and equitable to everyone; it’s about making the best use of the resources and capability we share to deliver the best outcomes for all,” said Dr Barrell.

Dr Barrell quoted former Chinese leader Mao Zedong when he said that “Women hold up half the sky”.

“It’s about making sure we are indeed holding up the whole sky,” concluded Dr Barrell.

Strategic Plan

Gender Breakfast Dialogue - May 2023Strategic Plan aims at advancing equal, effective and inclusive participation in governance, scientific cooperation and decision-making. Its focus in 2020-2023 has been to “advance gender equality across the Organization, especially in governance and decision-making.”

The biggest advances have been achieved in women’s participation in leadership, with a particular surge in female vice-presidents, chairs and co-chairs. This has increased from an average of 31% in 2019 before the WMO reform to 39% for the new structures in 2021.

In 2021, 33% women delegates attended the Extraordinary Congress, up 6% from Congress-18 in 2019.

WMO’s Services Commission and Research Board have exceeded the 40% target, but others still lag behind.

The proportion of women in subsidiary bodies of regional associations is still persistently low, especially in RA II (Asia) and RA III (South America).

Congress recommendations

The Congress resolution lays out a series of recommendations to

  • Create inclusive and diverse governance structures
  • Integrate gender mainstreaming in strategic planning processes and in projects
  • Develop the capacity of WMO staff, constituent bodies and Members on both technical subjects and gender mainstreaming approaches
  • Ensure the WMO recruitment process is gender responsive
  • Develop resource tracking for allocation of funds
  • Build understanding of the gender-specific aspects of weather, hydrological, climate and environmental services

The rationale for gender equality in WMO governance, strategy, programmes and decision-making is as follows:

Improves performance

Organizations that respect and value gender equality and diversity attract and retain talented staff and improve performance. They boast better employee satisfaction, improved governance and innovation.

Fosters innovation and partnerships

More varied perspectives in the discussion lead to improved decision-making. Gender-responsive initiatives between women’s and community groups and NMHSs at the field level foster innovative and creative ways to adapt services and disseminate them more effectively.

Empowers women and values their unique contributions

Multiple examples highlight the vital role of women in science, climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness and recovery, ocean and natural ecosystem preservation, among others.

Yields people-centred solutions serving all users

Gender-responsive weather, hydrological and climate services expand the reach to communities, increase adaptive capacity, and save lives, livelihoods and assets. They take into account differing vulnerabilities, capacities and needs.

Prepares for more effective response and recovery

Equal access, use and benefit from weather, hydrological and climate services allows users to better understand risk, anticipate and manage extreme events or take advantage of favourable climatic conditions, and adapt to change.

Has a multiplier effect on other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Gender equality is a cross-cutting issue and gender mainstreaming has the potential to trigger progress on multiple SDGs.

Share this page