The Scottish Prime Minister said at the UN COP26 climate summit that women’s voices must be at the center of the fight against climate change.
Nicola Sturgeon said more women and girls needed to be in decision-making positions as she said the situation where a minority of the 120 world leaders who spoke at the Glasgow summit were women “must change”.
Women are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, as they constitute the vast majority of the world’s poor, often depend on small-scale agriculture for their livelihoods, and may represent 80% of those displaced by climate disasters.
Speaking on Tuesday as she chaired a panel at an event focused on promoting gender equality in climate action, Sturgeon said: âThere is no doubt that we need to make sure that change climate is a feminist issue.
âWe need to ensure that the experiences of women and girls around the world, so often disproportionately affected by climate change, are understood when we design solutions.
âAnd we need to ensure that women’s voices are at the center of creating and implementing solutions to climate change. “
She added: âWhen world leaders gathered here at the same time last week, of the approximately 120, a tiny minority were women.
“It has to change and it has to change quickly.”
Among the panelists was climate activist Fatou Jeng from The Gambia.
She explained how her country is affected by climate change, although it contributes “very little” to greenhouse gases.
Ms Jeng said the impacts – including flooding, sea level rise, drought and desertification – mainly affect agriculture, where women dominate as they use farm income to support themselves and to the education of their children.
She said: “I am the daughter of a farmer and my mother sells vegetables, but climate change has fundamentally badly affected this particular activity that my family is engaged in.”
Ms. Jeng said that through her community work, she has seen girls forced to marry due to family poverty caused by climate change and others forced to stay at home due to flooding.
She said scientists had warned that the capital, Banjul, where she lives, would be “flooded” if the sea level rose by one meter.
She added: âWe are sitting here in the negotiating rooms shaping policies on the climate crisis, but do we really consider the gender aspect of it?
âBecause the issue of climate change is a human rights issue because of the way it affects people. “
She called for prioritizing gender equality, saying that in previous years there had been a lot of discussion but little progress.
“We have the opportunity to sit down and negotiate on the climate crisis and believe that we really need to take into account the people left behind who face the daily challenges they continue to face,” she added.
“And if we are to achieve a more just planet, we really need to make sure that women and girls are put at the heart and center of the discussions we have today.”
The prime minister said the speakers’ words were “incredibly powerful,” adding: “Climate change is a human rights issue, gender equality is a human rights issue, the impact of climate on women is a human rights issue and that is how we should see it.
The event followed the UK government’s announcement that Â£ 165million would be spent on improving women’s equality and climate action.
One official said tackling the inequalities faced by women and girls could help tackle climate change.
Ministers said the Â£ 165million included Â£ 45million to help groups in Asia and the Pacific tackle gender inequalities and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
And Â£ 120million would be used to build resilience to climate change, prevent pollution, protect wildlife, boost renewable energy and manage waste, as well as support women’s leadership, access to finance, to education and skills in Bangladesh.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who chaired the event, said: âIt is women, girls and those who are already the most marginalized who will be hit hardest by climate change.
âBut they also have a vital role to play in addressing the climate crisis.
âThe UK is committed to tackling this dual challenge head on, committing new funding to empower communities and women’s groups to take locally-led adaptation action to build local resilience,â national and global.