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Rural, Coastal, Indigenous Women Bear Brunt of Climate Change, Must Be Empowered to Lead Response Efforts, Speakers Say as Women’s Commission Continues Session

Delegates urged the Commission on the Status of Women, on the third day of its annual session, to account for the differentiated impact climate change has on vulnerable groups ill-equipped to address the phenomenon — particularly rural, coastal and indigenous women — and empower these individuals to lead national and international efforts in response.

The session, which runs from 14 to 25 March, is focused on the theme “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes”.  (For background, see Press Releases WOM/2213 and WOM/2214.)

As the general discussion continued, speakers pointed out the gendered nature of the climate crisis, which disproportionately hurts women and girls.  These individuals, living in coastal communities and rural areas and dependent on natural resources for survival, are more likely to experience poverty and food insecurity despite bearing the burdens of attaining resources for the household and providing care.  Against that backdrop, delegates urged that national policies and programmes to address climate change and manage disaster risk account for these specified needs, also detailing national strategies in this area and the ways in which women are taking steps to address these issues.

Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta, Minister for Women, Genders and Diversity of Argentina, emphasized that the differentiated effects of climate change on women are rooted in their lack of access to resources.  Rural women are especially vulnerable, as they face a range of inequalities such as the inability to enter the work force and the burden of family care.  To achieve gender empowerment, policies must be implemented to dismantle these structural inequalities and Argentina, for its part, is focused on building “societies of care” by creating a new care system and providing parental leave.

Foune Coulibaly Wadidie, Minister for Advancement of Women, Children and Family of Mali, also noted the specified impact of climate change on women, who make up half of the country’s population of 20 million and contribute between 60 to 80 per cent of its food resources.  However, climate change severely affects agricultural and related sectors, and economic constraints stemming from cultural norms mean that women’s livelihoods are dependent on the climate.  As such, she said that Malian women are determined to find solutions to ensure sustainable development.

Similarly, Bernarda Ordóñez Moscoso, Ecuador’s Minister for Justice, Human Rights and Culture, highlighted the leadership role played by indigenous women, who have direct contact with the State.  Due to their heightened vulnerability, the Government works to recognize the ancestral knowledge of these individuals, support their entry into the market and help with agricultural capacity-building.

Likewise, Marci Ien, Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality, spotlighted her Government’s gender-responsive approach to climate and biodiversity policy, which includes First Nations, Métis and Inuit women, as their knowledge and valuable experience in fighting climate change greatly contributes to adaptation and mitigation action.

Amongi Betty Ongom, Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development of Uganda, also stressed that women, girls and other vulnerable groups should play a leadership role, as climate change continues to have a greater impact on those more reliant on natural resources to support their livelihoods.  In Uganda, women have been at the forefront of responding to climatic change by producing food in their households through adaptation measures.  Further, the Government supports gender mainstreaming across various sectors, including through climate-smart agricultural efforts and agribusiness advisory services to improve farmers’ productivity.

Virginia Albert-Poyotte, Saint Lucia’s Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs, spotlighted the situation of another vulnerable group of individuals, pointing out that women and children living in coastal communities are among the most vulnerable to climatic and other shocks to the agricultural and tourism sectors.  Although women have been on the front lines of the global climate response for decades, their needs and concerns have not received the necessary levels of acknowledgement and analysis.  Gender equality must be placed at the centre of national development efforts, she stressed.

In that vein, Seiko Noda, Japan’s Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Minister of State for Gender Equality, noted that gender issues are magnified when a crisis occurs, as women face the burden of increasing household responsibilities and are susceptible to domestic and sexual violence.  As a country prone to natural disasters, Japan encourages more women to participate in the decision‑making process and with on-site activities, such as the operation of shelters and other aspects of disaster response.

Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women of Australia, concurring that women and girls are disproportionately affected when crises occur, pointed out that these groups comprised 96 per cent of the deaths in the Solomon Islands flash flood in 2014.  Through its international development programme, Australia is supporting women to play a leading role in disaster preparedness and response across the Pacific.

Anna Maria Mokgethi, Botswana’s Minister for Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, also detailed national development efforts that empower women, noting that women in her country are the primary users of wood as a source of energy.  In an effort to prevent deforestation and ensure sustainability of flora and fauna, the Government provides new mothers with fruit trees as part of its “Free Trees for Babies” initiative.

Over the course of the discussion, many speakers also expressed concern over the plight of women and girls in Ukraine, expressing solidarity with that country and condemning the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion.  Maryna Lazebna, Minister for Social Policy of Ukraine, explaining that “I don’t have time to report today” on the status of women, underscored that Ukrainians only have time to protect their families, children, homes, freedom and right to exist from the Russian Federation’s invasion of her country.  Calling for the international community to help stop the aggressor and restore peace, she said: “I believe you haven’t simply listened to me.  For a moment, you have become a mother from Mariupol, holding tight to her heart her 18-month-old son who died because of shelling”, adding:  “It’s high time to act”.

Also delivering statements during the general discussion were ministers and other senior Government officials of the United States, Zambia, Pakistan, Italy, Estonia, Armenia, Latvia, Albania, Denmark, Cameroon, Paraguay, Bolivia, Algeria, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Panama, Côte d’Ivoire, Venezuela, India, Mongolia, Senegal, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Qatar, Suriname, Angola, Chile, Kenya, Gambia, Togo, Chad, Nigeria, South Africa, Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, Rwanda, Antigua and Barbuda, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Fiji, Malta, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nepal, Viet Nam, North Macedonia, Guinea, Niger, Indonesia, Congo, Peru, Nauru, Malawi, Dominica, Marshall Islands, Burundi and China, as well as an observer for the State of Palestine.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of India, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Armenia.

The Commission on the Status of Women will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 17 March, to continue its work.

General Discussion

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), noting the Russian Federation’s recent bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, spotlighted the suffering of women and girls in Ukraine, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and under other oppressive regimes elsewhere in the world.  She stressed the need to document their stories and demand their equality as “these are our sisters — their status is our status”.  Turning to the climate crisis, she said that the same is a gendered, sexist crisis that disproportionately hurts women, girls and gender‑diverse people.  Women and girls comprise the majority of the population in coastal communities — the regions most under threat from climate change — and are more likely to experience poverty and food insecurity, are responsible for obtaining increasingly scarce natural resources and are more likely to lose access to education, economic opportunities and reproductive-health services.  There can be no climate solution without women and girls, she urged, calling on the Commission to give them the tools, leverage and positions of power “that will save us all”.  For its part, the United States is linking its climate and gender‑equality strategies, and she added that “we do not work on one without the other”.

COLLINS NZOVU, Minister for Green Economy and Environment of Zambia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his Government considers women and men to be equal partners in the country’s development.  Nevertheless, women’s status has remained low due to imbalances in power relations and the patriarchal nature of Zambian society.  Against that backdrop, he outlined a range of legislative and policy measures aimed at promoting gender equality, including a 2015 Gender Equity and Equality Act.  The Government also revised its national gender policy to incorporate such issues as climate change, he said, adding:  “We can all attest to disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls’ livelihoods and its potential to worsen existing gender inequalities.”  Zambia prioritizes environmental sustainability and inclusiveness in its development agenda, as well as its climate change mitigation policies, and it created a Climate Change Gender Action Plan, he said.

SHIREEN MAZARI, Minister for Human Rights of Pakistan, said that the protection of women’s rights is a key pillar of her country’s paradigm.  Pakistan combats all forms of discrimination against women and girls and is committed to fulfil its international obligations in climate action, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.  In addition, her country places emphasis on Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, empowering women in all spheres.  It also enacted legislation to protect women against domestic violence and adopted a national action plan to improve the working conditions for women.  Its social protection services provide universal health coverage and microfinancing to women.  Pakistan is also focusing on reforestation and adopted its first gender action plan in the field of climate change.  The illegal occupation of Kashmir by India has negatively affected the rights of women and children there, she said, also warning against the rising tide of islamophobia in the West, which must be dealt with by the world community.

ELENA BONETTI, Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family of Italy, associating herself with the European Union, voiced solidarity with women and girls living in conflict situations, such as Ukraine.  She called for a global commitment to women focused on solid and well-articulated institutions, as well as the introduction of gender perspectives across all forums and sectors.  Unfortunately, such an approach is not yet sufficiently widespread due to a lack of methodologies for the collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated statistical data on the correlation between gender and climate, environment and disaster risk reduction.  “This minimal knowledge translates into a failure to recognize women’s potential to cope with vulnerabilities [and] to respond resiliently to environmental dynamics,” she said, calling for an all-of-Government approach to reversing that trend at all levels, and describing Italy’s National Strategy for Gender Equality and its National Recovery and Resilience Plan as positive examples.

SIGNE RIISALO, Minister for Social Protection of Estonia, aligning herself with the European Union, highlighted the distinct effects of climate change and COVID-19, among other global challenges, on girls and women.  It was of great importance to ensure that women and girls are equally and meaningfully represented in decision-making.  Noting that her Government is gender-balanced and led by a female Prime Minister for the first time in history, she stressed that ending gender-based violence, tackling gender stereotypes, decreasing gender pay gap and segregation continue to be the top priorities of her country.  “Mainstreaming gender equality has to gain further importance at the core of all policy fields, including climate change,” she said.  Innovative policy measures, including finding new methods to encourage girls to take an interest in information and communications technology (ICT), are needed in order to overcome the gender digital divide.  The women, peace and security agenda is more relevant than ever, she added, pointing to women in Ukraine who are organizing to support others and joining the territorial defence units to protect their homes from the invasion.  “These women deserve our praise and support,” she said.

NAREK MKRTCHYAN, Minister for Labour and Social Affairs of Armenia, said that her country has institutionalized gender‑equality policy at the national, regional and community levels.  The Council on Women’s Affairs of the Republic of Armenia is committed to ensuring the equal participation of women and men in political and socioeconomic processes.  Armenia has also undertaken reforms to ensure equal access of women to economic resources.  The implementation of gender‑sensitive budgeting is aimed at ensuring a balanced distribution of resources and opportunities to protect the right to development of the most vulnerable groups.  The war unleashed by Azerbaijan against the people of Nagorno‑Karabakh between September and November 2020 caused a massive displacement from Nagorno‑Karabakh to Armenia, resulting in a humanitarian crisis.  Consequently, many programmes in the field of women’s human rights have been revised and reoriented.  The five-year Action Plan of the Government for 2021-2026 envisages the expansion of sustainable cooperation mechanisms for the activities of the Women’s Resource Centres.  Furthermore, active cooperation with civil society and non-governmental organizations has been initiated in the fields of environmental and disaster risk management.

ELIZABETH GOMEZ ALCORTA, Minister for Women, Genders and Diversity of Argentina, said climate change is a global problem affecting poorer countries with less capacity to handle disasters.  Differentiated climate change effects are clear, rooted in, among other things, women’s limited access to resources.  Rural women are especially vulnerable as they face a range of inequalities, from entering the work force to carrying the burden of family care.  Achieving gender empowerment calls for implementing policies intended to dismantle these inequalities with a view to achieving sustainable development and climate justice.  Taking this approach will affect change, she said, emphasizing that Argentina is focused on building “societies of care”.  In this vein, two new bills were recently introduced to propose creating a comprehensive care system and providing equal parental leave.  Pointing to other efforts, she said an inter-ministerial round table also helps to strengthen the provision of care by the State, and a project is currently reaching domestic workers.  These existing inequalities affect women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world, she said, pledging Argentina’s commitment to work together to overcome these challenges.

BERNARDA ORDÓÑEZ MOSCOSO, Minister for Justice, Human Rights and Culture of Ecuador, said hers was a country of diversity, and the Government had set a range of priorities that focus on the rights and equality of women and girls.  Highlighting several initiatives, she said efforts are under way to recognize the ancestral knowledge of indigenous and rural women through actions supporting their entry into the market and providing assistance for agricultural capacity‑building.  Sustainable development efforts are also ongoing, with support to assist bio‑enterprises and a green economy, in line with the provisions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  In terms of addressing other concerns, she said efforts are aimed at eradicating gender-based violence in each of Ecuador’s territories.  In addition, the new Agenda for Equality reaches indigenous women, those in rural communities and others in similarly vulnerable groups.  Ecuador is one of the first nations to adopt a policy for a circular resilient economy focused on zero emissions.  Indigenous women are showing their leadership and have direct contact with the State, she said, adding that:  “We will not rest until we guarantee the rights of all women and girls.”

GATIS EGLĪTIS, Minister for Welfare of Latvia, called on the international community to be united in support to Ukrainian women, girls and children and to support that country in joining the European family.  On a national level, his country, according to the World Economic Forum, consistently ranks amongst the top 20 countries globally in terms of gender equality.  In Latvia, the proportion of women among doctoral graduates is 54 per cent, with 52 per cent of researchers being women.  More than 60 per cent of women are employed in science and technology.  Latvia’s national gender equality policy focuses on equal rights and opportunities in the labour market and education, prevention of domestic violence and gender-based violence, and strengthening gender mainstreaming in sectoral policies.  In addition, men and boys have an important role and responsibility to that end, including through promoting men’s participation in family life and care work.  He also noted measures taken by his country to eliminate domestic violence against women, including a social rehabilitation course imposed on the perpetrator to reduce violent behaviour.

OGERTA MANASTIRLIU, Minister for Health and Social Protection of Albania, said that the world is witnessing, in Ukraine, one of the most severe humanitarian crises since the Second World War as millions of women and children are “forced to leave everything behind to flee the insanity of war”.  Contemporary challenges, such as the global health pandemic, conflict and climate change, mostly affect women, and to have sustainable solutions to these growing crises, women must have increased participation in decision-making.  In Albania, 70 per cent of Government ministers are women.  However, barriers still exist in the country — like other Western Balkan States — such as the lack of gender-disaggregated data and the increased burden placed on women by unpaid domestic care work.  For its part, the Government works to provide women with education, occupational training, employment services, health care, affordable housing and social services.  She also noted Government efforts to mainstream gender in policies focused on climate change and the environment, emphasizing that gender-responsible budgeting is essential for both gender and fiscal justice.

TRINE BRAMSEN, Minister for Equal Opportunities of Denmark, expressed her country’s strong solidarity with the women in Ukraine who were fighting for their lives.  “I do not want my daughter to grow up in a world with violence and sexual abuse against women,” she stressed, adding that she was not only speaking on behalf of her little daughter, but for all girls in the world.  Further, she pointed out that girls and women are often killed just because they are girls and women; many are denied education or access to family planning.  Every girl and woman in the world should have a life of independence with the right to live and make their own decisions.  “We can only change the culture if we change the structures,” she stressed, underscoring that changing the structures calls for political actions.  To that end, her Government has decided to change its legislation so that sex without consent is rape.  That is an important signal because it underlines the importance of women in the whole society.

She then turned the floor over to a youth delegate, who said that, as a young woman, she wanted the freedom to fulfil her potential and purpose in the world, and she wanted that freedom for all women across the globe.  She went on to describe her friends around the world, including a friend in Africa who was fighting for the right to pick her own partner and her friend in Ukraine who was fighting for the right to live in a democracy.  Young women were the driving forces of the future.  Therefore, female empowerment must be ensured today in order to ensure a sustainable tomorrow.  She called upon the international community to invest in young female leaders and work together across genders and generations, adding:  “We, the young women, we will take our seats at the table.”

MARIE THÉRÈSE ABENA ONDOA, Minister for Women’s Empowerment and the Family of Cameroon, outlining national policy on gender equality, said her country is implementing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security and its related resolutions, with a training manual for women mediators for peace having been developed and about 1,000 women mediators completing training.  Going forward, it is necessary to strengthen legislation to foster social protection and inclusion, adopt quotas for women to improve their participation in decision‑making nationally and locally, and put in place policies and programmes for the economic empowerment of women.  She called for a return to peace in Cameroon, which hosts many refugees from the Central African Republic.

CELINA LEZCANO, Minister for Women of Paraguay, said that the ministry, exercises leadership in public policies aimed at advancing gender equality.  Paraguay has adopted a national care policy and designed the first national action plan to create an institutional governance scheme.  The National Plan for the Reduction of Poverty and the National Plan for Indigenous Peoples have incorporated the economic empowerment of women as their objectives.  Stressing the need for greater investment in the creation of gender mechanisms, she called for broad participation of rural and indigenous women in leading environmental policies and designing and executing projects that seek to link gender equality, climate change, clean energy and natural disaster risks.

MARCI IEN, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth of Canada, underlined that women and girls shoulder a disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work responsibilities and are often the first to feel the impacts of climate change.  Resource scarcity and climate emergencies also intersect with sexual and gender-based violence, endangering the full realization of human rights and health.  Her Government is committed to taking a gender-responsive approach to climate and biodiversity policy at both the domestic and international levels.  The national climate plan includes First Nations, Métis and Inuit women in climate and biodiversity policy, as indigenous women have a unique and important role and their knowledge and valuable experience in fighting climate change greatly contributes to adaptation and mitigation action.  She noted the $5.3 billion global commitment to financing international climate initiatives in which at least 80 per cent of projects integrate gender equality considerations.  As the transition to a net-zero economy creates new industries, markets and jobs, women and girls will need the tools to play an active part particularly in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sector.  Canada is investing in a workforce that is agile, resilient and equipped with the skills to deliver on that ambition.

IVAN LIMA MAGNE, Minister for Justice and Institutional Transparency of Bolivia, said the Commission has worked very hard to complement the work of States to guarantee a fuller life to women.  While much has been done, more remains to be addressed.  Violence against women and girls must be eradicated.  Bolivia works to address this through public policies and law to ensure that women have violence-free lives, including such comprehensive legislation adopted to eliminate violence against women, teenagers and girls.  Turning to the needs of indigenous women, he called for targeted programmes to address the challenges they face.  In terms of protecting the environment, he said women and men together must fight for Mother Earth with common and differentiated responsibilities.  In addition, the voices of indigenous women must be heard, including in such multilateral forums as this Commission, he said, adding that this is a right that must be ensured.  Highlighting other national efforts, he said that all cases of femicide are currently being reviewed in Bolivia, with a view to protecting female rights.

KAOUTHAR KRIKOU, Minister for National Solidarity, Family and Status of Women of Algeria, highlighted a range of achievements, from legislation to projects tailored to ensure respect for the rights of women and girls.  Laws and policies have been adopted to, among other things, combat climate change and mitigate risks, while recognizing the role women play in these activities.  Ministries for water, waste management and other related sectors have been making strides in these areas.  In addition, national agencies related to economic development are partnering with civil society organizations to encourage green practices, including in the agricultural sector.  Algeria supports such livelihoods as beekeeping and other entrepreneurial and agricultural work, with projects that focus on giving women the opportunities they need to strive.  Other areas for action include focusing on women working in their homes, she said, emphasizing that national development can only be achieved with the full participation of women at all levels, without leaving anyone behind.

AMONGI BETTY ONGOM, Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development of Uganda, said the effective governance of climate change, environmental and disaster risks is not adequate unless it integrates Sustainable Development Goal 5, providing women and girls with equal rights will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.  Uganda implements international, regional and such national frameworks as the Enhanced Gender Action Plan alongside gender-responsive policies and programmes for environmental conservation, protection and rehabilitation.  The Uganda Vision 2040 plan calls for the development of appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies and identifies sustainable land use and management.  Having adopted a range of laws, guidelines, strategies and policies on the environment, Uganda supports gender mainstreaming across many sectors, including through climate-smart agricultural efforts and agri-business advisory services to improve farmers’ productivity.  Women have been at the forefront of adapting to the new climate conditions in an effort of producing food in their households through adaption measures.  As climate change continues to have a greater impact on those who are more reliant on natural resources to support their livelihoods, she said women, girls and vulnerable groups must play a leadership role.

DEBORAH STEDMAN-SCOTT, Minister for Women of the United Kingdom, condemning the Russian Federation’s unprovoked, premeditated attack on Ukraine, stressed that this situation should concern all in the Commission.  This “war of choice” will set back human rights and gender equality and will disproportionately affect women and girls, who comprise the majority of refugees and are more exposed to the risk of violence.  In that regard, the United Kingdom launched new funding, on International Women’s Day, for women’s rights organizations and civil society actors seeking to help women both inside and displaced outside of Ukraine.  Further, the Government is committed to advancing gender equality and social inclusion in climate action and finance.  As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, States have the responsibility to support women’s needs in recovering their health, economic situation and well-being.  She went on to detail Government efforts to promote pay transparency, increase support for women entrepreneurs and facilitate women’s entry into science, technology, engineering and math careers.

SITHEMBISO NYONI, Minister for Women Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises Development of Zimbabwe, aligning herself with the African Group, pointed out that COVID-19 exposed the extent of gender inequality through its disproportionate impact on women, children, the elderly, youths and those living with disabilities.  These same individuals are also vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, as they are more reliant on natural resources for food, income and energy.  Like other countries in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is particularly vulnerable to severe, recurrent droughts, floods, cyclones and other natural calamities.  The cumulative effects of these and other challenges — like the HIV/AIDS pandemic, sporadic crop pests and animal disease outbreaks — have been enormous, exacerbating gender inequality and presenting major barriers to equitable, sustainable development.  Against that backdrop, the Government has prioritized achieving gender equality by incorporating gender perspectives in all national endeavours.

KALPANA DEVI KOONJOO-SHAH, Minister for Gender Equality and Family Welfare of Mauritius, stressed that climate change was not gender neutral.  Women around the world will suffer more from the intersection of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and poverty.  She called special attention to the impact of climate change on women in small island developing States who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods.  Recalling the two cyclones that recently significantly damaged the infrastructure in her country, she said that the Government is incorporating gender mainstreaming in its climate change adaptation and mitigation policies, including the launch of the National Gender policy for the period 2022‑2030.  A pool of women leaders has been trained to conduct awareness‑raising activities and rainwater‑harvesting systems have been introduced in its Women Empowerment Centres.  Mauritius has also partnered with the European Union through the SWITCH African Green Project to empower its fisherwomen with the necessary capacity and skills to adopt a more sustainable livelihood by starting up their own green projects.  Further, her Government plans to hold national consultations with women entrepreneurs to identify challenges within the economic sectors and come up with gender sensitive policies that would respond to the prevailing structural barriers.

MARIA INÉS CASTILLO LÓPEZ, Minister for Social Development of Panama, highlighted the gender approach as a key tool for the development of social policies, specifically through the national development strategy, which targets the 300 districts facing the greatest multidimensional poverty.  As one of the three carbon-negative countries in the world, Panama is committed to including gender considerations in environmental management and climate action, and to ensuring the empowerment and participation of women in the design of all climate‑related tools.  In September 2021, Panama started mainstreaming gender into the climate agenda, through the approval of a national plan for gender and climate change.  Panama has adopted a vulnerability index for climate change and recently the legislature passed a law that recognizes the rights of nature and related State obligations.

NASSÉNÉBA TOURE, Minister for Women, Family and Children of Côte d’Ivoire, said that public policies in favour of gender equality have made it possible for her country to achieve socioeconomic progress.  Women represent 70 per cent of the agricultural workforce and produce 90 per cent of the country’s food.  This is considered in the development of climate and environmental policies, programmes and projects, including the advocacy campaigns to improve women’s access to land.  Various policies and strategies have been adopted to implement climate risk mitigation measures with 1.2 million beneficiaries, 50 per cent of whom are women, by 2030.  They also support the climate-resilient agropastoral and fisheries sectors with 975,000 beneficiaries, half of whom are women, and enable the restoration of degraded lands and forests, involving women and the local communities.

DIVA GUZMÁN, Minister for the People’s Power for Women and Gender Equality of Venezuela, commending civil society groups and States for advancing women’s rights, said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of women and girls, from psychological effects to increased violence against them.  Amid this complex reality, Venezuela denounces the negative impact of the illegal, immoral use of economic blockades against countries of the global South.  These measures also negatively affect women and girls and constitute a crime against humanity.  The planet and humanity can only be protected through sustainable practices and not through capitalism.  Women must be included in all aspects of agricultural production and related scientific areas, she said, adding that their inclusion contributes to food sovereignty.  In most countries, levels of women’s activities in many areas of life have fallen during the pandemic, whereas Venezuela has seen an increase in their participation, thus breaking the impact of the current economic blockade.  Venezuela adopted gender-sensitive policies to support entrepreneurs, including through a bank for women.  Venezuela is also implementing a new reform to ensure women live lives free of violence, she said, adding that efforts are also under way to ensure their access to justice.

SMRITI IRANI, Minister for Women and Child Development of India, noted that women’s agency and leadership plays a key role in the realization of her country’s “atmanirbhar bharat”, which means “self-reliance”.  Citing national statistics illustrating the improvement of women in all sectors, she also noted that 71 per cent of women are literate today as compared to 55 per cent 15 years ago, with more girls than boys enrolled for higher education.  The gross enrolment ratio for girls has significantly increased, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.  Further, over 1.45 million Indian women now serve as elected representatives in local self-governance bodies.  Among other initiatives, there are now a number of provisions incorporated in the recently enacted labour codes to create an enabling work atmosphere for female workers and ensure equal pay for equal work.  The Government has also introduced provisions allowing female participation in non-conventional sectors, such as underground mining, the Air Force and police forces, among others.  The practice of Triple Talaq has been made illegal, enabling women to go to hajj without male guardian.  As well, there are now 704 One Stop Centres to extend various supports to women facing domestic violence or distress and the Maternity Benefit Act has been amended to increase paid maternity leave, benefiting 26 million women.

ARIUNZAYA AYUSH (Mongolia) said that, in her country, women make up 63.7 per cent of the outside labour force population, yet spend 2.7 times more time on housework compared to men.  That situation was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition, women’s unpaid housework and childcare has had a negative impact on their participation in the labour market.  In that regard, her country aims to increase women’s labour force participation rate to 60 per cent by 2025 and 65 per cent by 2030.  Policy measures towards that end include addressing the shortage of pre-school education facilities and developing childcare services in order to support women’s employment.  Mongolia has revised the Labor Law, which prohibits sexual harassment in employment and employment relationships.  It is also developing and implementing the Women’s Employment Support Program, which will support women and caregivers at home with childcare services and short-term courses to improve their skills and to re-enter the labour market.  Stressing that her country will continue to make persistent efforts to increase women’s participation in decision-making and in major economic projects, she noted that ensuring gender equality is also about men.  In that regard, balancing gender equality must be done for both men and women.

NDEYE SALY DIOP DIENG, Minister for Women, Family and Gender of Senegal, endorsing the statements delivered on behalf of the African Group and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the harmful impact of climate change — from droughts to the deterioration of living conditions — clearly affects woman and girls.  They lack access to land, financing and other key resources, which requires a gender-responsive approach to shaping policies and activities aimed at bolstering green economies.  Senegal’s plan aims at tackling climate change while promoting gender equality, including the appointment of a national gender and climate focal point in connection with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Other efforts include training programmes and capacity-building projects, she said, adding that much remains to be done, especially in the post‑pandemic recovery period.  Calling for solidarity among all stakeholders, she underlined the need for more sustained technical and financial cooperation to improve women’s access to technological resources, land and related activities to mitigate climate change.  Actions must advance these goals to build a sustainable future, with the key being the strengthening of the resilience of women and girls, she said, reiterating Senegal’s commitment to ensure this occurs.

DAMARES ALVES, Minister for Women, Family and Human Rights of Brazil, detailed a series of Government measures to address women’s needs, including national campaigns to prevent violence against women and abolish indigenous practices that violate women’s rights.  Twenty-three new integrated care centres for women who are the victims of violence have been constructed, which combine shelter and social-assistance services.  Further, women’s participation has been expanded in all levels of society, the Government currently has a record number of women in high-ranking positions and national campaigns encourage women’s participation in elections.  Noting that Brazil also supports international initiatives that contribute to women’s empowerment, she called on the international community to take care of those fleeing war and hunger and respect humanitarian corridors.  She also expressed concern over the murder of Christian women around the world, underscoring the unacceptability of women being killed because of their faith as religious freedom is an inalienable right.

GISELE NDAYA LUSEBA, Minister for Gender, Family and Children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, aligning herself with the African Group, noted that domestic legislation and executive policies aim to improve the status of Congolese women.  National priorities include eliminating poverty, providing social protection, combating violence against women, increasing women’s participation in decision-making and protecting the environment.  However, while progress has been made, difficulties remain substantial in the quest for gender equality, and this trend is reflected across the world.  Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has both revealed the size of and exacerbated the gap between women and men, particularly with regards to violence and poverty, which are major obstacles to gender equality.  She also pointed out that globalization has created new challenges in this area, such as the trafficking of women and girls, the changing nature of armed conflict, the growing gap between nations and the detachment of macroeconomic policies from concern for women and children.

MARIAM BINT ALI BIN NASSER AL-MISNAD, Minister for Social Development and the Family of Qatar, commended the choice of this year’s theme as tackling climate change has never been more important.  The COVID-19 created challenges in relation to Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality.  Qatar has developed several national instruments for women’s rights, including a national vision for 2030 aimed at increasing the participation of women in the labour force, education, economic and political life.  In her country, women comprise 57 per cent of the labour force, higher than the global average.  Also 72 per cent of graduates in the fields of law, engineering and communications are women.  The Government also decided to support part-time work of women to allow them to take care of their families without undermining their careers.  Qatar now has three women ministers, respectively for education, social development and health, she said, also calling for greater participation of women in the climate agenda.

BRONTO SOMOHARDJO, Minister for Home Affairs of Suriname, noted that the response to challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, requires intensified cooperation and promotion of a proactive approach, as well as gender-responsive policies at all levels, with the inclusion of women, as agents of change in all recovery efforts.  Noting that his country has been challenged with financial and economic deficiencies, including a high debt burden as a result of COVID-19, he highlighted several policy measures and initiatives taken on the national level towards the advancement of women’s rights.  Such efforts include strengthening partnerships with United Nations agencies, the private sector and civil society organizations, including a referral pathway and publication of information on available gender-based violence services through video and radio broadcasting and posters nationwide.  His country has also established a reporting unit for sexual harassment in the workplace and taken legislative measures, including the adoption of the Family Labour Protection Act.

FAUSTINA FERNANDES INGLES DE ALMEIDA ALVES DE SOUSA, Minister for Social Action, Family and Advancement of Women of Angola, aligning with the statements delivered on behalf of the African Group, Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the challenges are clear.  For its part, Angola has adopted a gender-sensitive budget alongside a national policy for gender equality and equity, and national strategies for climate and for biodiversity.  The African continent is the region contributing least to climate change, but remains the most vulnerable to its effects, with recurring disasters threatening the full realization of rights to life, dignity and development.  Angola’s agricultural sector, which is highly exposed to climate change, contributes about 6.3 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GDP), in which women represent 60.9 per cent of employees.  Because poverty, inequality and climate change are intrinsically linked, the Government of Angola has adopted mechanisms and methodologies of action to reduce environmental effects on the lives of women and girls.  Despite women being disproportionately affected by climate change, they can play a crucial role in adapting and mitigating effects of this crisis, having demonstrated practical knowledge, sustainable solutions and resilience to climate change, she said.

ANTONIA ORELLANA GUARELLO, Minister for Women and Gender Equality of Chile, noting that she is the first woman to serve in her current ministerial position, said her country has taken a range of steps to address concerns related to women, girls and climate change.  Indeed, climate change consequences continue to impact living conditions in Chile, she said, pointing to such examples as droughts that have led to declaring climate catastrophes in some regions.  Girls must work for hours to carry water to their homes, and women must handle the care of their families under these conditions.  Chile has been increasingly exposed to related risks and consequences.  A green economy must be pursued along with a better understanding of the differentiated impact of climate change on men and women, she said, noting efforts to improve data collection to better respond to such challenges.  Emphasizing that indigenous women must also be included in these and other efforts, she said Chile continues to give priority to its related policies in this regard.

MARGARET KOBIA, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes of Kenya, said climate change response is a priority for her country, which has instilled a robust architecture to fight that phenomenon, allocating $2 billion to its response strategy.  Kenya is also among the first African countries to mainstream gender.  Its Constitution guarantees the rights of women.  The 2016 national action plan was spearheaded by a women Cabinet Secretary.  Given that women account for 75 per cent of the workforce in agriculture, their participation is critical for food and nutrition security.  She reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to putting gender equality at the centre of climate and disaster-risk-reduction solutions.

FATOU KINTEH, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Welfare of the Gambia, said that the Government has recognized climate change and natural disaster as complex, global phenomena that require a common solution.  Climate change poses a fundamental threat to countries, peoples and livelihoods, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and negatively impacts national development and poverty-reduction efforts.  Against that backdrop, the Government has established a long-term strategy to address climate change and greenhouse-gas emissions, which includes efforts towards water sanitation, mitigating solid and liquid waste and creating smart fishing infrastructure to protect the fragile marine ecosystem.  She went on to point out that — as natural disasters affect men, women and children differently — the Government has worked to build individuals’ capacity to respond to disaster risks while accounting for gender issues.

ADJOVI LOLONGNO APEDOH-ANAKOMA, Minister for Social Action, Advancement of Women and Literacy of Togo, aligning herself with the African Group and the Group of 77, pointed out that climate change, coupled with the current health crisis, has been felt disproportionately by women and girls.  As such, the Government has reoriented its development-planning and economic governance efforts towards resilient development to combat this phenomenon.  Various measures have been implemented — particularly in the energy, transportation, forestry and agricultural sectors — while ensuring the participation of women and girls in the process.  Further, Togo is party to several international climate instruments, and at the national level, it has adopted domestic legislation in line with its commitments to regulate the management of the environment and natural resources in a participatory, inclusive manner.  She also said that the Government works to strengthen women’s leadership in managing such resources, including in the areas of fishing, aquaculture, agriculture and disaster risk reduction.

AMINA PRISCILLES LONGOH, Minister for Women, Family, Protection of Children, of Chad, said her country’s new Constitution, adopted in 2018, incorporated provisions that favour the promotion of women’s right.  Chad also adopted various laws and policies, establishing institutions to implement them.  Women’s rights are reflected in concrete laws, which, among others, promote reproductive rights, protection against gender-based violence, and greater representation of women in Government.  She is a living example of this.  However, despite global, regional and national efforts, challenges to women persist, including access to land, female genital mutilation and early marriage, among others, and their access to resources remains limited.  Disparity in education between men and women gets larger at the higher levels.  The pandemic has also negatively impacted women and girls who are employed largely in the informal sector.  More so, these challenges are aggravated by insecurity posed by the non-organized evacuation of mercenaries from Libya, and terrorist activities in the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel.  As women and girls are often the most vulnerable impacted by these crises happening all at once, her Government is seeking support from bilateral and multilateral partners.

PAULINE TALLEN, Minister for Women Affairs of Nigeria, aligning herself with the African Group, said her country has launched the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change which aims to build resilience, leverage partnerships and reduce the negative impact of the crisis on women, among other things.  The nationally determined contribution has been revised to mainstream gender equality across all sectors.  In addition, the National Policy on Climate Change 2021-2030 aims at transition towards a low-carbon economy.  Legal frameworks have been developed to allow women to participate in response to climate change and disaster risk reduction.  Women and girls are participating in the Great Green Wall project and climate-smart agriculture.  Nigeria is committed to planting 25 million trees via a multisectoral approach.  Women are at the forefront of advocacy for replacing traditional wood with gas for fire.  They are also playing a critical role in efforts to reduce industrial wastes.  The mentoring programme for girls is aimed at raising the “climate-responsive generation”.  Capacity‑building is her country’s priority.

MAITE NKOANA-MASHABANE, Minister for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities of South Africa, associating herself with the African Group, said women in rural areas, especially in Africa, are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood, owing to their responsibility to secure water, food and energy for cooking and heating.  While climate change, environmental crises and disasters affect them disproportionately, women are also agents of change and are leading in the search for sustainable solutions.  Efforts must ensure their full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership in all these areas.  Calling on developed countries to fulfil their climate finance obligations and commitments, she said programmes for mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and financing should address the needs of women and girls.  South Africa supports the expansion of gender-responsive financing as part of climate change policies in all countries.  A whole-of-Government approach is needed to build the resilience of women in a range of sectors.  South Africa has adopted laws to address these and other issues, she said, adding that efforts must eradicate gender-based violence and ensure women’s sexual reproductive and health rights are protected during times of environmental crisis and disasters.

MAYRA JIMÉNEZ, Minister for Women of the Dominican Republic, said great challenges to her small island developing nation include the aftershock of hurricanes and flooding.  These risks are not gender‑neutral and reflect historical inequalities.  Indeed, women and girls are extremely vulnerable to climate threats, from ensuring livelihoods to living lives free of violence.  Gender-sensitive solutions are needed, and they must be shaped by the meaningful participation of women.  The Government has been carrying out many activities to connect gender activities with climate action.  Pointing to several examples, she said gender perspectives were mainstreamed into a national climate action plan.  To make this commitment a reality, the Dominican Republic approved a plan to incentivize the participation of women in such areas as environmentally friendly production techniques in rural areas and to improve their access to information and resources.  The Dominican Republic is also working to foster the economic empowerment of women, exploring alternative production efforts, and a national emergency commission is now examining ways to address violence against women in the context of disasters.

MARIAM ALMHEIRI, Minister for Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates, said that the climate change crisis is one of the most unconventional threats facing the international community today, and must be overcome in a multilateral framework with the participation of women and girls.  The phenomenon has uneven impacts on different regions and individuals.  Further, chronic inequalities further increase risks for disadvantaged groups, who are often the most affected by — and least equipped to address — the consequences of climate change.  Women in poor areas face greater risks and burdens, such as those living in developing countries who depend on local and natural resources for water and food.  Against that backdrop, women and gender-balance councils in her country empower women and allow them to play an effective, influential role in the development process.  Further, the United Arab Emirates has seen how ensuring effective political participation for women allows the Government to respond to the needs of citizens and residents alike.

JEANNETTE BAYISENGE, Minister for Gender and Family Promotion of Rwanda, said that the agriculture sector of her country still accounts for almost 61 per cent of the female workforce in subsistence farming.  Women spend much more time handling domestic work and have little time dedicated to attending trainings.  As a result, only a few women are equipped with climate-smart agricultural practices compared to their male counterparts.  Highlighting the establishment in 2012 of a National Fund for Environment, she noted that the Fund has mobilized a total of $217 million with 46 projects approved.  Sixty per cent of the 176,000 jobs created by the fund are occupied by women.  Stressing that women are not only vulnerable to climate change, but also effective actors or agents of change in relation to both mitigation and adaptation, she also acknowledged the role of men and boys as allies and positive partners in promoting a more gender‑sensitive society and sustainable change.

DEAN JONAS, Minister for Social Transformation, Human Resource Development and the Blue Economy of Antigua and Barbuda, pointed out that the Commission’s meetings should foster reflection, accountability, innovation and action.  It cannot discuss gender equality without discussing climate change, however.  Increasingly destructive natural disasters and environmental destruction due to urbanization and industrialization necessitate urgent efforts to ensure that vulnerable groups — including women and girls — are resilient in the face of these threats.  He stressed that women’s voices must be heard — not only in a consultative capacity, but as leaders in disaster risk reduction, environment and climate change institutions.  As a small island developing State, Antigua and Barbuda is acutely aware of the damage these phenomena can cause to physical infrastructure; however, it is also important to increase the resilience of women and girls.  As such, he said that States must tailor their policies and programmes according to the needs and lived realities of women globally.

JESSICA YAOSKA PADILLA LEIVA, Minister for Women of Nicaragua, said that, due to the geographic location, her country is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with direct impacts on women, children and other vulnerable groups.  Therefore, climate justice is a top priority for her country.  Nicaragua is implementing legal frameworks to protect Mother Earth, prioritizing the incorporation of climate perspectives in poverty reduction strategies and plans.  The Government is rolling out programmes, including projects to help families increase income and adapt to the effects of climate change so that they can increase agricultural production, which, in turn, will increase their resilience.  Her country is investing in coastal infrastructure, as well as supporting projects to enhance food security and industrial productivity.  She noted that Nicaragua has the largest health network in Central America.

MANTY TARAWALLI, Minister for Gender and Children’s Affairs of Sierra Leone, said her country is making strides towards the goal of making life safer and better for women and girls and leaving no one behind.  A Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment bill awaits enactment by the Parliament, and when enacted, will ensure a minimum of 30 per cent representation of women in elective and appointive positions, among other stipulations.  The Government is also making progress towards gender-disaggregated data‑collection, gender mainstreaming, gender-sensitive budgeting and fighting violence against women and girls.  On the international front, Sierra Leone is a member of the Board of the newly created Women, Peace and Security-Humanitarian Action Compact, and serves as President and Vice‑President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), she added.

MARISE PAYNE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women of Australia, recalling the worst flooding in the east of her country, noted that women have played key leadership roles to drive the integrated response in these difficult times.  Through its international development programme, her country is supporting women to play a leading role in disaster preparedness and response across the Pacific.  As well, the Australian Defence Force delivered critical supplies including sanitation kits with soap, hygiene products and underwear for women and girls, following the recent volcano and tsunami in Tonga.  Women and girls are disproportionately affected when crises occur, she said, citing data indicating significant increase in the incidence of sexual and gender-based violence, child, early and forced marriage, and other harmful practices.  Pointing out that 96 per cent of the deaths in the Solomon Islands flash flood in 2014 were women and children, she drew attention to the significant gaps in gender‑disaggregated data.  Australia continues to advocate for ending all forms of gender-based violence and inequality and is committed to ensuring sexual and reproductive health rights, she said.

MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia) then took the floor, reiterating his country’s condemnation of the Russian Federation’s premediated, unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine which violated the Charter of the United Nations.  Adding his support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, he said:  “We stand for the women and girls of Ukraine.”

ROSY AKBAR, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation of Fiji, said countries are not equal in the face of the climate crisis.  Fiji’s “cluster system” aims to coordinate Government institutions, departments and outside actors to identify and address climate needs.  As well, the National Gender-Based Referral Pathways also helps to coordinate response services for survivors of gender-based violence.  Looking ahead, efforts between 2022 and 2026 will focus on ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s economic empowerment and improving protection, preparedness and resilience to disasters for all women and girls.  In the aftermath of the 13 climate catastrophes Fiji has faced since signing the Paris Agreement, the country has supported thousands of women and girls who lost everything they had.  “We can do this as best as we can as a Government and as a people, but this is not enough,” she stressed, calling on the entire international community to secure the goal of 1.5°C temperature rise and set gender-informed biodiversity targets to restore ocean health.

OWEN BONNICI, Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation of Malta, expressing support for the Ukrainian people and aligning himself with the European Union, noted that his country fully supports the ongoing work at the United Nations to mainstream the gender perspective and to ensure the equal representation of women and girls in all levels.  The full, equal and meaningful participation of all women and girls is also essential to implement the women, peace and security agenda.  This will be one of Malta’s priorities if entrusted to serve at the Security Council between 2023 and 2024, he said.  On a national level, Malta has taken several initiatives, both in legislation and policy, that provide free childcare, before and after-hour school services, among others.  This has led to a significant increase of 15.8 per cent in the female employment rate between 2013 and 2018, he noted.  His country also amended its Constitution in 2021 to introduce temporary positive measures which ensure that 40 per cent of members of Parliament will be women.  It is also currently developing its first national strategy and action plan on gender equality and mainstreaming.  Expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2022, that plan will aim to strengthen gender mainstreaming in all stages and in various sectors of policymaking.

AMEL BELHAJ MOUSSA, Minister for Women, Family, Children and Older Persons of Tunisia, noted that her country is located in the Mediterranean, one of the world’s hot spots for climate change.  Tunisia’s national laws stipulate the duty of the State to ensure the safety of the climate in relation to sustainable development and the right to a healthy climate and environment.  It has also implemented a gender approach and integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into public policy.  Citing several examples, she described the Women Leaders Programme — which was recently announced on International Women’s Day — and its goal of promoting economic empowerment for women.  Tunisia also prioritizes the need of girls and women from vulnerable groups and will continue to work towards full equality of opportunity between the sexes, she said.

DOROTHY GWAJIMA, Minister for Community Development, Gender and Special Groups of the United Republic of Tanzania, associating herself with the African Group, said her country continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.  The President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, is a woman; most of strategic ministries such as Foreign Affairs, Defence, Health, Community Development and Industry are led by women; and a female speaker heads the National Assembly.  The number of female judges has risen to 43 per cent, and the number of female parliamentarians to 37 per cent.  As the country is engaged in various climate‑sensitive sectors, such as agriculture, energy and water, it is also subject to climate change impacts.  Recalling that the United Republic of Tanzania put forward its nationally determined contribution in 2021, she said it also actively considers gender equality, good governance and nature-based solutions in that arena.

FOUNE COULIBALY WADIDIE, Minister for Advancement of Women, Children and Family of Mali, aligning herself with the African Group, said climate change remains among the main and root causes of the crisis in her country and the Sahel region.  At the same time, sanctions imposed by countries in the region are also having a negative impact, with women and girls especially affected.  For its part, Mali is striving to implement the conclusions of its national reform dialogue.  Women make up half of Mali’s population of 20 million and contribute 60 to 80 per cent of the country’s food resources.  Climate change has a severe impact on agricultural and related sectors, which comprise 45 per cent of Mali’s GDP.  Drought further reduces agricultural yields.  Economic constraints stemming from cultural norms mean that women’s livelihoods are dependent on the climate, from fishing to forestry resources.  Mali has taken strategic actions to adopt policies to reduce environmental risks and is also drafting a nationally determined contribution plan for climate action.  Meanwhile, the women of Mali are determined to play their key role in finding solutions to ensure sustainable development.

ERGOGIE TESFAYE, Minister for Women and Social Affairs of Ethiopia, said the fate of the planet depends on collective wisdom and adequate responses to climate consequences, which is especially affecting developing countries.  For many women and girls, the burden is heavier due to historic inequality and the lack of access to important information and knowledge.  Agriculture and pastoralism are highly vulnerable to global warming, as well as the increasing intensity of droughts and other disasters.  Women also play an irreplaceable role in the protection of the environment and are climate conscience in consumption and their way of life while being at the forefront of building sustainable livelihoods.  A testament to this is their participation in Ethiopia’s efforts to promote tree planting.  Women must fully participate in such endeavours.  Ethiopia has come a long way in poverty‑reduction, and women’s role in the formal economy has increased.  Women must be fully included in climate action and in working towards achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals.  In this vein, Ethiopia has adopted laws and policies to advance progress.

AMAL HAMAD, Minister for Women’s Affairs of the State of Palestine, pointed out that Palestinian women and girls are suffering under the occupying Israeli Power, subjected to arbitrary arrests and killings, confiscation of housing, obstruction of basic services, terrorism from settlers and other racist policies.  Palestine has been working to empower women by increasing maternity leave and ensuring environmental justice by providing women’s organizations with clean energy and investing in the green economy.  Despite these efforts, however, Palestinian women and girls continue to face arbitrary measures from the occupying force.  The Gaza Strip is uninhabitable due to redirection of water supplies to settlements, which, in turn, spray pesticides and bury chemical and medical waste.  Stressing that development cannot be ensured without justice, she called on the international community to provide justice for Palestine, which has been waiting for 70 years for the world to implement the resolutions of the Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council to end the occupation.

UMA REGMI, Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens of Nepal, said that the climate crisis is not gender‑neutral.  Rather, it is a threat multiplier in the case of women and girls, making them more vulnerable to all forms of gender-based violence and consequently increasing existing gender inequalities.  Nepal’s Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of women and girls, including the rights of sexual minorities.  It also guarantees equal rights in family matters and property, including the right to lineage.  Nepal has an independent National Women’s Commission to safeguard women’s rights and interests.  Despite the negligible contribution to greenhouse gas emission, Nepal is suffering from rising temperatures, she said, urging the international community to fulfil the $100 billion‑per‑year commitment.  She also urged efforts to double adaptation finance by 2025 in order to ensure gender-just climate solutions, increase women’s leadership in the green economy, and build women’s and girls’ resilience to climate impacts and disasters.

NGOC DUNGDAO, Minister for Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of Viet Nam, noted that his country has ratified, adopted and acceded to a wide range of conventions and agreements on climate change.  Further, Viet Nam has incorporated gender equality considerations into its national policies, strategies and programmes on climate change over the past decade.  Contributing to the global efforts, Viet Nam took lead in formulating the United Nations Resolution on Human Rights and Climate Change.  At the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), his Government affirmed that it would take strong measures, including through mechanisms under the Paris Agreement, in order to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.  This goal is not only aimed at attaining specific results in the fight against climate change, but also to the benefit of social security and gender equality for its people.  States should strive to their existing commitments to climate finance to assist developing countries in order to respond to climate change and enhance the capacity of national mechanisms for gender equality.

SEIKO NODA, Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Minister of State for Gender Equality of Japan, noted that gender issues are magnified when a crisis occurs, as women face the burden of increasing household responsibilities and are susceptible to domestic and sexual violence.  As such, it is essential to incorporate climate change factors into disaster risk reduction measures.  As a country prone to natural disasters, Japan is accelerating initiatives to incorporate a gender perspective into its disaster risk reduction policies and has positioned that approach as one of the key pillars of its national plan for a gender-equal society.  This encourages more women to participate in the decision‑making process and with on-site activities.  It also urges the youth and women to participate in the operation of shelters and other aspects of disaster response.  The Japanese Government has compiled a set of guidelines on disaster response for local officials’ use when planning and carrying out disaster-risk-reduction measures from a gender perspective.  Recalling the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, she also noted that, through UN-Women, Japan has contributed $250 million to support women and girls who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters.  These funds have been utilized to empower women and girls in Uganda, Somalia and Morocco.

MARYNA LAZEBNA, Minister for Social Policy of Ukraine, said “I don’t have time to report today”, because Ukrainians have time only to protect their families, children, homes, freedom and the right to exist from the Russian Federation’s invasion of her country.  Women, children, the elderly and the wounded are spending endless days in bomb shelters, under rubble and under shelling.  “It’s like a movie about [the Second World War],” she said, citing thousands of civilian casualties, more than 200 schools and hospitals destroyed, and 3 million people who fled the war.  Russian troops are threatening to kill the planet.  The Russian Federation’s nuclear forces have been brought into full combat readiness.  Russian troops have seized two nuclear power plants.  They are blowing up oil depots, she said, imploring all to help stop the aggressor and restore peace.  “I believe you haven’t simply listened to me.  For a moment, you have become a mother from Mariupol, holding tight to her heart her 18-month-old son who died because of shelling of Russia,” she said, adding:  “It’s high time to act.”

JOVANKA TRENCHEVSKA, Minister for Labour and Social Policy of North Macedonia, aligning herself with the European Union, said the concept of equal opportunities is one of her Government’s key priorities, establishing it as a leader in the region.  Noting that climate change has strong gender-based dimensions, she said North Macedonia recognized the issues’ importance and became the first country in the region to nominate a gender focal point to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  North Macedonia — in just five years — is approaching the achievement of its first goal:  the development of gender-responsive climate change actions and climate-resilient gender‑equality policies.  In that process, the ministry — in close cooperation with partners — has systematically analysed gender-based differences and vulnerabilities in the climate related sectors.  It started an institutional capacity-building process for intersecting gender equality and climate change, and developed gender and climate change indicators in national strategic documents.  In addition, the Government introduced climate change as a separate strategic area in its new Gender Equality Strategy 2021-2026, and introduced the concept of gender equality in its long-term strategy on climate action and the climate action law.

VIRGINIA ALBERT-POYOTTE, Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs of Saint Lucia, aligning herself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted that multiple, interrelated global crises have exposed the ills of gender inequality and have demonstrated the fragility of the gains for women and girls made over the last decade.  As a small island developing State, Saint Lucia only emits a negligible amount of greenhouse gases, but is on the front line of the devastating effects of climate change.  The economy is heavily dependent on the agricultural and tourism sectors, which are both highly vulnerable to climatic and other shocks, and women and children living in coastal communities are among the most vulnerable.  Pointing out that, although women have been at the forefront of the climate response for decades, their needs and concerns have not received the necessary levels of acknowledgement and analysis, and she called for adequate, accessible climate financing for those most in need.  Unless gender equality is placed at the centre of national development efforts, she urged, the world will not achieve sustainable development.

AICHA NANÉTTE CONTÉ, Minister for the Advancement of Women, Children and Vulnerable Persons of Guinea, aligning herself with the African Group, said that, because women and girls are the most exposed to the climate crisis and amplify existing inequalities between the genders, her country undertook the integrated approach to include gender dimensions into programmes.  This approach is included in her country’s national strategies on climate change and sustainable development.  Guinea is providing support to numerous women’s groups in reforesting and combating bush fires, as well as creating green jobs, and income‑generation activities for women, with encouraging results.  However, these efforts have come up against some social and cultural norms, including rural women not understanding climate change.  As well, there is a low-level budgetary allocation and a lack of disaggregated data.  Because women and girls were drivers of change, she emphasized her strong recommendation of science education for women and girls.  She also expressed appreciation for technical support by United Nations entities.

AMINATA ZOURKALEINI ALLAHOURY, Minister for the Advancement of Women and Protection of Children of Niger, highlighted several Government initiatives, including the Economic and Social Development Plans 2017-2021 and 2022-2026, which aim to reduce inequalities between men and women, and the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Plan in the agriculture sector.  To implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform, the Government has undertaken actions and strategies that are consistent with its various priorities, including the National Strategy for the Economic Empowerment of Women, which has reduced the impact of poverty on women through the granting of microcredits, the promotion of decent work for paid domestic workers.

BINTANG DARMAWATI I GUSTI AYU, Minister for Women Empowerment and Child Protection of Indonesia, said climate change is a major threat to achieving sustainable development, disproportionately affecting women and children.  Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesia suffered losses, but will never give up.  For its part, Indonesia had adopted economic policies based on a circular economy.  Current plans are expected to generate more than 4 million jobs, including employment opportunities for women.  In addition, the Government is developing gender-sensitive climate budgets, while disaster management initiatives have adopted gender mainstreaming.  Gender-responsive policies have also been implemented for those displaced by disasters, and likewise, other programmes have adopted the concept as they aim at mitigating and adapting practices to address climate change issues.  These policies and programmes are significantly contributing to COVID-19 responses as well as to responses to other disasters, she said, adding that Indonesia remains committed to international cooperation for the mutual benefit of all.

INES NEFER INGANI, Minister for the Advancement of Women and Integration of Women in Development of Congo, said gender equality and women’s empowerment are vital for lasting development.  Raising a range of concerns, she said that violence against women and girls must be addressed, with efforts aiming at its eradication.  Women must also be included in the emerging jobs related to climate change and to preventing and managing disasters.  Congo adopted a new law combating violence against women, among the harshest legislation in Africa, and has taken steps to address the issue.  When violence against women increased during the pandemic, Congo passed a law that provided, among other things, holistic care to survivors.  This demonstrates that the concept of positive masculinity is working in Congo, which is also adopting innovative initiatives in this regard.  A “blue fund” is also making progress, as are efforts for climate adaptation for communities in areas at risk.  Women’s equality and empowerment are themes in projects in rural efforts to address environmental and agricultural initiatives, as well as a reforestation project, she said, adding that Congo stands ready to fight violence against women and to share its experiences in addressing this through effective legislation.

DIANA MIRIAM MILOSLAVICH TUPAC, Minister for Women and Vulnerable Populations of Peru, said that ensuring gender equity is an urgent aspect of achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.  She also detailed several national efforts in this area, such as policies to reduce structural discrimination against women and to ensure women’s involvement in decision-making.  Domestic electoral legislation mandates gender parity in the number of candidates for each party standing for electoral posts and also punishes the harassment of women in political life.  This normative framework will guarantee that all women can exercise their political rights and be represented with parity.  Noting that women took on most of the care work during the COVID-19 pandemic — which limited their free time, access to labour markets, and in turn, economic empowerment — she said that the Government has implemented a national care system, which guarantees the right to receive and provide high-quality care and reduces the overburdening of women with care tasks.

ISABELLA DAGEAGO, Minister for Health and Women and Social Development Affairs of Nauru, said her country established the Department of Women’s and Social Development Affairs, which works in close collaboration with the Department of Climate Change to ensure gender mainstreaming of national climate change, environmental and disaster‑risk policies are in place.  Recognizing the important role of women and girls in society, she said their participation in the climate, environmental and disaster‑risk discussions and processes is crucial.  Nauru aims to be inclusive and consider gender parity as an essential part of processes to ensure that women and youth are being heard.  Those most affected are best placed to enrich discussions to help find innovative solutions.  The key activity for Nauru this year will be understanding the different nuances of climate and gender issues, she said, adding that it intends to use this gender-responsive approach in nationally determined contributions.

ANNA MARIA MOKGETHI, Minister for Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs of Botswana, said her country embodies the principle of social justice in its national development planning and implementation and recognizes the promotion of gender equality.  Therefore, her Government fully embraced the Sustainable Development Goals.  Several policies have been developed, including the National Policy on Gender and Development, Climate Change Policy, National Housing Policy, Policy on Education and the Draft National Policy on Disaster Risk Management.  To respond to the changing climate, her country adopted measures such as climate‑smart agriculture, poverty‑alleviation initiatives, building resilience on various sectors, diversification of tourism for income‑generation and improvement of livelihood.  She also noted that women are the most users of wood as a source of energy.  Thus, in an effort to prevent deforestation and ensure sustainability of flora and fauna, the initiative “Free Trees for Babies” was established.  Through this initiative, newly delivered mothers are given fruit trees, which are named after their new babies to motivate their nurturing those trees.  It also contributes to food security and the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 13.

PATRICIA ANNIE KALIATI, Minister for Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare of Malawi, aligning herself with the African Group and SADC, said her country, like many others in sub-Saharan Africa, is grappling with adverse impacts of climate change.  The frequent occurrence of climate-related hazards such as severe floods, strong winds, drought episodes, protracted dry spells and outbreaks of pests and diseases have serious repercussions on human health and agriculture production in Malawi.  Highlighting recent effects of heavy flooding in 17 districts, she said more than 60 per cent of women and girls were affected as compared to their male counterparts.  As such, the Government places climate change issues at the centre of its agenda, establishing mitigation and adaption interventions, and having signed relevant international instruments, is promoting women’s participation without discrimination in the entire development agenda.  The Constitution upholds the principle of equal rights for men and women and prohibits any discrimination based on gender or marital status.  This is to ensure that women fully participate in all development activities including climate change actions.  To demonstrate the highest political will, the President of Malawi launched the Women in Climate Action Network, she said, reiterating the country’s commitment to promoting women’s full, equal and meaningful participation and decision making.

ADIS KING, Minister for Youth Development and Empowerment, Youth at Risk, Gender Affairs, Seniors Security and Dominicans with Disabilities of Dominica, said small island developing States like hers continue to be disproportionately affected by climate change.  United Nations figures indicate that 80 per cent of people displaced by climate change and climate related disasters worldwide are women and girls.  Recalling the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, she said social researchers could identify gender specific impacts, with women more vulnerable to gender-based violence, increased unpaid care work and threats to their livelihoods.  Despite their vulnerability, women were key respondents in their communities, and were critical in Dominica’s overall response during the harrowing days and weeks that followed.  Committed to transforming Dominica into the world’s first climate resilient nation, the Government integrated climate change adaptation and mitigation concerns into national policies and programmes, as well as development planning.  The National Resilience Development Strategy 2018, and the Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan 2030 guide the work of both Government and non-governmental agencies.  Women are represented at high political levels and in policymaking, comprising 34.4 per cent of parliamentarians and 31.5 per cent of cabinet ministers and 81 per cent of permanent secretaries.  Warning that progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals can be reversed and hindered by climate-related hazards and natural disasters, she said:  “We need increased commitment and support to mitigate against the impact of climate change, in a gender‑responsive manner, if we are to achieve true resiliency and sustainability, and to ensure that no one is left behind.”

JEMI NASHION, Minister for Culture and Internal Affairs of the Marshall Islands, underlined that his country is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and susceptible to the effects of tropical storms, typhoons, storm surges and drought.  “Climate change remains our greatest threat,” he said, adding that rising sea levels pose an existential threat to low‑lying atoll nations.  The impact of those threats is most detrimental to vulnerable groups, including women and girls.  The country’s national adaptation plan — also known as its survival plan — explores extreme options, such as elevating and building islands in order to avert a forced migration.  Such work will require steep financing support from donors, multilateral development banks and the private sector, he said, calling for more countries to fulfil their climate commitments to vulnerable States.  Meanwhile, the Marshall Islands continues to advocate at the intersections between climate change and nuclear justice, gender-based violence and human rights, he said, outlining a range of national activities in those areas.

SABUSHIMIKE IMELDE, Minister for National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender of Burundi, said that the effects of climate change are eye‑opening, and women should take their place in research, decision-making, innovation in addressing the global challenge.  Gender inequality has negative impacts on all sectors, slowing down the development of vulnerable countries.  Her country undertook initiatives to increase resilience, including a strategy to increase investment in agriculture, a decree of 2018 that bans use of plastics, and a national strategy on climate change, which focuses on vast reforestation.  The gender perspective is reflected on the combat against poverty.  The Government provides social protection, including universal health coverage, and has established women’s banks.

YI LIN, Deputy Chairperson of the National Working Committee on Women and Children of the State Council of China, said her country eradicated absolute poverty, including among women, in 2021, reaching a milestone 10 years ahead of schedule.  About 40 per cent of the country’s workforce are women, who also account for half of its entrepreneurs.  China’s maternal and infant health is among the top 10 in the world.  As well, support is provided to women with disabilities.  Women are integrated into all economic and social development plans.  Improving climate change governance is the world’s shared challenge.  China seeks to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2060.  The theme of the current session is relevant, as women are affected disproportionately by climate change, she said, calling for the integration of gender awareness across the agenda on climate change, environmental degradation and disaster risk reduction.

Right of Reply

The representative of India, speaking in exercise of the right of the reply, said Pakistan’s delegate has failed to protect the rights of its minorities, and thousands of women and girls have been abducted and subjected to forced marriages.  Given the current situation, he called on Pakistan to leave all occupied areas.

The representative of Azerbaijan said her counterpart from Armenia has made statements that attempt to distract from the truth.  Resorting to provocations violates international law, she said, referring to a list of recognized geographical names for territories.  Armenia had violated this recognized list by attempting to change the names of certain districts and enclaves.  Recalling incidents stemming back to 1919, she said Armenian aggressions have caused much suffering among women and girls, including such recent incidents as the murder of civilians and many others that are still missing.  Azerbaijan continues to raise awareness of missing persons, and Armenia refuses to respond.

The representative of Pakistan said Jammu and Kashmir is not part of India, which the United Nations has recognized.  India’s refusal to implement relevant Security Council resolutions violates international law, she said, recalling that, since 1989, human rights violations and war crimes have included more than 96,000 extrajudicial killings and 11,000 cases of rape.  With its continued actions in 2019, she said India has revealed its true face of fascism and Islamophobia.  She asked that India ends its State terrorism against Pakistan.

The representative of Armenia said her delegation rejects the statement made by her counterpart from Azerbaijan, which bears full responsibility for its aggressions and violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

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