Women provide key solutions to Climate Change challenges and the Global Transformation process
On 16 November, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, took part in the Women Leaders and Global Transformation Summit, held within the framework of United Nations Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22), in Marrakech, Morocco. The Summit was organized under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohamed VI and attended by the President of Marshall Islands, HE Hilda Heine, first woman in the Pacific to be elected president, Helen Clark of UNDP and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice.
The Summit brought together influential women leaders in different sectors to craft a single and powerful message for enhanced action, rapid change and productive collaboration.
“It is true that women shoulder the heaviest burden and are the first victims of the climate change effects, but they are also providers of solutions” the Director-General said. “We must not allow climate change to exacerbate existing risks or create new ones. On the contrary, let us join forces, to build more resilient, inclusive, sustainable societies,” she continued, underscoring that this calls for action on four levels, education, better data, sharper policy and changing perceptions.
“That is why it is so important to enrol girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, to provide them with the right set of tools. Putting the spotlight on great women scientists and leaders as role models can be a great source of inspiration”, Ms Bokova said, referring to the UNESCO-l’Oreal Partnership for Women in Science.
“Tackling climate change is not only a scientific or economic issue -- it is about human rights and dignity, it is about nurturing the talents of all girls and women,” she declared.
“If we want to ensure the involvement of women in decision making, we could consider the possibility of a specific UN Resolution for women and climate change, very much like the UN Resolution 1325 on women, peace and justice,” she said in ending, a suggestion that was well received by many participants.
In her opening speech, Minister of the Environment and High level Climate Champion of Morocco, HE Hakima El Haite, highlighted the major role and skills of women that are essential to get out of the climate crisis. Referring to the title of the summit, and in particular the “Global Transformation”, she put the spotlight on the new paradigm shift that is happening in the area of sustainable development, climate mitigation and adaptation thanks to the efforts of women all over the world.
“Because who, other than us, mothers and grandmothers, understand better the challenges of providing food, water and security to our children? Let it be clear, the fight for gender equality is not a matter of feminism, it is a societal matter”, she stated.
In several breakout sessions, the participants discussed how women are advancing in the new global context and which social and economic barriers they are still facing. They also debated on the concrete actions that can be taken to reinforce the role of women in the areas of Energy, Adaptation and Innovation and how gender aspects can be reflected in the outcome of the COP22.
The Director-General participated in several high level events during the COP22, notably in the field of Education for Sustainable Development, Gender and the role of Women in Science, and the importance of Heritage Preservation in the fight against climate change. She also attended the high level segment on 15 November, in the presence of HRM King Mohamed VI of Morocco and over 40 Heads of State. In her interventions, she expressed her gratitude for the choice of the Kingdom of Morocco to dedicate this COP to concrete action, in particular for the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially across Africa. The Director-General and the Government of Morocco identified several areas for further exploration during the bilateral meetings with HE Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairperson of the COP22, with HE Mohammed Amine Sbihi, Minister of Culture, with HE Rachid Belmokhtar Benabdellah, Minister of Education and with HE Fatima Merouan, Minister of Handicraft and Social Economy. The Director-General also had a long and fruitful meeting with HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa, Chairperson of the Mohamed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, a longstanding and greatly-appreciated partner of UNESCO.
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