France wants to support women’s role in addressing climate change

World Water Day 2011 [EPA/FAROOQ KHAN]

The inclusion of women in the climate debate remains in its early stages. French women involved in the climate negotiations are trying to raise awareness on this issue, EURACTIV France reports.

During the hurricanes in the Caribbean in 2017, the behaviour of women proved to be different to that of men, according to the Climate Risk & Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative.

The project, which intends to establish warning systems for populations at high risk of extreme climate conditions, is currently trying to improve its effectiveness on the basis  of people’s reactions. One of the solutions consists of targeting women more.

This is one of the examples put forward by France, which advocates a more “gendered” vision of climate funding. By funding projects led by women or listening to their needs, this will increase their effectiveness.

Madeleine Rose Diouf, a representative of Senegal at COP24, confirmed that women had a crucial role in addressing climate change in Africa. “They are the one who have the capacity to repair the mangrove but they are also the ones who cook, using biomass, so their role is crucial,” the diplomat said.

Worldwide study: Women say gender discrimination persists in agriculture

Discrimination against women in the farming sector is still widespread, though less than a decade ago, according to a global study carried out by Corteva AgriscienceTM which concluded that empowering women could help revive rural areas and meet the rising food demand.

Despite being launched at COP21 and put into practice at COP23, including women in tackling climate change is making slow progress.

In 2016, only 0.01% of climate funding projects directly related to women or the issue of gender equality. While awareness has increased rather slowly, some countries, such as France, are trying to push things further.

Women in climate negotiations

However, France is not necessarily a very credible source on this issue. The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is regularly criticised for reserving its best positions for men, starting with the position of Minister for Foreign Affairs, which has only once in history been occupied by a woman– and that was only for one year (Michèle Alliot-Marie in 2010).

Nevertheless, several women have implemented their expertise in the field of climate action, in the footsteps of Laurence Tubiana who was France’s ambassador for climate change negotiations at COP21. Brune Poirson has taken charge of the issue at the French Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition since 2017 and the current French ambassador for climate change negotiations is also a woman, Brigitte Collet.

“Women are not sufficiently taken into account, and access to instruments allowing women to take action is insufficient, access to funding remains difficult; but the consideration being given to this matter is progressing, which allows the effectiveness of climate projects to improve,” said Collet at an event organised by the French delegation at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

Training women in climate sciences

Women can also participate in the climate debate by carrying out research. This is the pet topic of Valérie Masson-Delmotte, one of only three female co-chairs at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She regretted the fact that no woman had ever chaired this structure, which drives climate research.

“In 1990, 2% of the authors of the IPPC report were women, in 2017 it was 33%. It’s important to move the proportion of women forward, it’s not only a question of numbers. It’s also to combat everyone’s unconscious biases – including diversity is a means of combatting these biases,” said the researcher who is specialised in climate physics, a field where there are still few women.

Such biases are also very much present in climate negotiations, which are still dominated by men.

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