“When you look at the negative impacts of climate change, the impacts on the poor and the vulnerable – particularly women – increases, so investing in programs that put women at the center is critical,” said Roger-Mark De Souza, vice president of research and director of the climate program at Population Action International (PAI), speaking to ECSP from the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. “There are a number of missed opportunities here in Cancun and in climate change deliberations overall that are not including women and are missing an opportunity to have a bigger bang for the buck, or power for the peso, as we say in Mexico.”
PAI hosted a side session with five panelists from Denmark, Ethiopia, Kenya, Suriname, and Uganda on “Healthy Women, Healthy Planet: Women’s Empowerment, Family Planning, and Resilience.” The session attracted more than 100 attendees and prompted incisive, informative questions, said De Souza.
“There was a call for additional research that is policy relevant that identifies some of the key entry points and added benefits at a country-level,” said De Souza. “And there is a very strong call for youth partnerships from a number of youth advocates who are looking at medical and public health interventions and are desirous of including reproductive health programming as part of that.”
“One concrete next step for Cancun is to work with other civil society partners who are here who are tracking how gender is being integrated into the negotiating language, particularly with regard to financing mechanisms,” De Souza said.
Besides financing and the need for more research, De Souza said the key issues that emerged from the panel were: the importance of linking programs of different scales; ensuring women’s empowerment and ownership; and recognizing and replicating effective partnerships.