5-6 JUNE 2018 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Stronger women for a better climate

Lab debate
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
14:00 to 15:15

Women are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change: their rights and socio-economic status are not equal to those of men, and they have less voice and influence than men in shaping policies and prioritising how climate finance is used.

Empowerment of women is an important ingredient in fighting climate change and building climate resilience as women are primary agents of change and effective risk managers. Their role is fundamental to create solid basis for a climate proofed development.

Through a series of concrete examples from international, national, local actors and climate activists, the session will explore how women's voices and actions can be heard and seen to influence climate change policy making at all levels.

Key points

  • Women are often disproportionately affected by climate change because they usually find themselves in the frontline of its impact.
  • Females should have more say in tackling global warming, such as more equal representation in international climate mitigation negotiations.
  • The EU is at the forefront of such efforts, introducing targeted measures that are designed to give women more equal participation.
  • The Paris climate change agreement is unlikely to realise its full potential without mainstreaming gender issues into climate action.


Despite claims to the contrary, climate change is happening and it affects everyone, be they male or female, young and old. But women can often be disproportionately vulnerable to the impact of climate change, particularly in poorer countries in Africa and elsewhere, where they are often responsible for feeding and providing water for their children and families.

When ecosystems are degraded from climate-related floods and droughts, this can impact disproportionally on women. This is compounded by the fact that the rights and socio-economic status of women are generally not equal to those of men. Women often have less of a voice and influence than men in shaping policies and prioritising how climate finance is used.

Empowerment of women is an important ingredient in fighting climate change and building climate resilience as women are primary agents of change. Their role is fundamental to create a solid basis for a climate-proofed development.

In recent years, there has been some progress in ensuring that women have a bigger say on climate issues. One good example is the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus Initiative – a EUR 350 million initiative funded by the EU and other sources – whose aim is to empower women, particularly in the world’s most vulnerable countries, to cope more effectively with the consequences of climate change.

The initiative comprises more than 100 projects in countries in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Funding in the first phase (2011-2016) supported capacity building, training and water management. The second phase (2017-2021) aims to seek out new initiatives directly involving women.

Despite continuing gender inequalities, women's voices and actions are being heard, as illustrated by the example of a female farmer in Malawi. Due to the impact of climate change in her country she has had to drastically diversify her activities, which now range from growing crops to raising livestock and producing honey. It means, for example, that in the event of a drought she can now rely on other revenue streams for herself and her family.

In Fiji, efforts are being taken to tackle gender issues with the government’s climate mitigation unit now staffed entirely by women. While such initiatives are welcome, much more still needs to be done to ensure that women – who make up approximately 50 % of the population – enjoy more of an influence on climate policy. Allocating more places to women on national delegations taking part in climate mitigation negotiations is but one example of how this might be achieved.

Looking ahead, the fear is that the Paris Agreement on climate change may not fulfil its full potential unless women, and the invaluable contribution they can make, are more fully taken into consideration.


Despite the example of a woman farmer from Malawi who has commendably succeeded in diversifying her activities in the face of climate change, it is clear that much more is still needed to ensure that women generally influence climate change policymaking at all levels.

Organised by


Marie-Roger Biloa
Founding Chair
Club Millenium
Sharmind Neelormi
GenderCC - Women for Climate Justice
Anne Barre
Coordinator Gender and Climate Policy
Women Engage for a Common Future
Chinje Uphie epse Melo Florence
President of the University
University of Ngaoundere
Fleur Newman
Gender Affairs Officer
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Sheila Sealy Monteith
Ambassador of Jamaica to Belgium and Head of Mission to the EU
Embassy of Jamaica
Nidhendra Singh
Embassy of Fiji in Belgium
Yvon Slingenberg
Director, Directorate A
European Commission - DG for Climate Action
Felice Zaccheo
Head of Unit
European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)