Ambassador Leendertse on “Women’s leadership in mitigating the impact of climate change and building a peaceful and sustainable climate-resilient Africa”, March 17th, 2022.

17.03.2022 - Speech

Statement delivered at the African Women Leaders Network side event at the African Union Mission

I thank the African Women Leaders Network, the African Union, South Africa, UN Women and the International Peace Institute very much for co-organising this high-level side event.

Gender equality should be seen as a cross-cutting issue in all areas of environmental policy, including climate protection.

The impact of climate change is not gender-neutral. Women and girls, in all their diversity, are disproportionately affected by the adverse impacts of climate change.

For example, in many countries in Africa, and around the world, women are responsible for securing the livelihoods of their families through farming. They are the first to face the adverse effects of climate change caused by droughts, erosion and floods. Although women are the main agricultural producers, less than 14 per cent of landowners worldwide are women.

At the same time, and despite the direct effects on them, women also participate far less on negotiations and decision-making relevant to combatting climate change.

Women are decisive agents of change, and their participation in decision-making processes is vital for a successful green and just transition to a more sustainable now. I say this with regard to the African continent, but also to my own country, Germany, where only 35% of parliamentarians are women. This is more than in previous years, but it is not enough. Studies show that greater gender parity in parliament can have a positive impact on reducing emissions and can generally lead to better results in climate action.

For us, the promotion of women’s rights and women’s participation in decision-making is at the heart of our feminist foreign policy, including in the context of combatting climate change.

Fighting climate change is one of the key tasks of our century. Only by remaining steadfast to our commitment to fight climate change effectively, we can ensure all-encompassing sustainable transformation of our societies.

Women are part of this transformation. We now have the means and potential to accelerate gender equality, for instance through an increased participation of women in green jobs and their full, equal and meaningful inclusion in all decision-making processes regarding climate policy.

Building peaceful and sustainable climate-resilient countries is only possible with strong participation of women. This is true for every country, including my own. This is also why we co-chair the Group of Friends of the African Women Leaders Network – to support women leaders in Africa who are working towards peace and sustainability. I am glad to see so many African leaders, especially women leaders and activists here today, who join forces for the goal of building a climate-resilient Africa.

I am sure that the 66th session of the CSW will contribute to that goal. As CSW co-chair and facilitator of the Agreed Conclusions, I am committed to reaching a successful agreement on this year’s priority theme – Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes. I count on your support and cooperation for the advancement of these causes in the spirit of true sisterhood.

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