Women’s Role in the Transition to the Green Economy

9 December 2010

CANCUN, MEXICO - Compelling and inspiring was the rhetoric of great women at a side event organised by UNDP and the Global Gender and Climate Alliance today - just one day before the end COP 16.  The fascinating cocktail of women's issues and climate change finance kept the audience so riveted that lunch was skipped and many were content to sit on the floor to glean all they could on how to act as effective agents of change.

Education and leadership are great tools that women can use in their communities and at home in order to pass a green message, the crowd heard. Their role as mothers, friends and entrepreneurs is key to saving energy and resources as well as for transforming new generations. Women as pillars of society, undoubtedly have a lot to offer in this enormous challenge of climate change.

Representatives from Finland, Mexico, Ghana and Nicaragua, among others, participated in this high-level panel that attracted, I must say, an obvious majority of women. We heard about how empowering women at their homes and jobs can be very beneficial not only for them, but for contributing to successful adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Just as an example, a woman farmer from Nicaragua explained how she has been able to organise more women with the help of the Community Resilience Fund from UNDP, identify vulnerable areas and even change to organic crops such as cocoa. I found it intriguing that in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, women have convinced municipalities to have a gender desk to address their needs in the context of climate change adaptation.

Speakers applauded the fact that gender considerations are now part of the negotiating texts (women and children are the most vulnerable groups), but agreed that they cannot be empowered in isolation. They must have access to financial support from the private sector and international sources such as the World Bank.

Perhaps the most relevant conclusion of this conference is that all the women acting as panellists are not waiting for big global agreements to act. They are already taking actions at community, regional and national levels. They are producing ecological products, working on capacity building and designing policies for that purpose; and they are accomplishing it with great conviction.

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