Enhancing women’s leadership, climate change top 66th Commission on Status of Women agenda

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The 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women must agree on practical measures to enhance women’s leadership in all areas, particularly in the context of climate change.

That was the opening message from South Africa’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Mathu Joyini, in her capacity as the Chair of the session for the next two years.

This year’s hybrid session of the UN’s largest gathering on women’s empowerment and gender equality is officially underway in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reductions policies and programmes.

“This year’s priority theme could not have been more timely. Gender inequality, coupled with climate change, environmental degradation and disasters, is the greatest sustainable development challenge of the present time. Climate change, environmental and natural disasters impact society as a whole. Environmental degradation and the negative impacts of climate change affects all, but particularly women and girls’ poverty, health, and livelihoods. These impacts are strongest on rural and indigenous women and girls. Women and girls feel their effects disproportionately so, especially those in vulnerable and marginalized situations and those in conflict settings,” says Joyini.

Women participation key in achieving objectives

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres echoed her sentiment, warning that climate change was exacerbating conflict around the world, and this disproportionately affects women and girls.

Guterres again called for gender equality to be at the heart of a renewed social contract that is fit for today’s societies and economies.

Guterres also warned that the Paris Climate Agreement would not be realised without the full and equal participation and leadership of women.

Meanwhile, the new Executive Director of UN Women Sima Bahous called on member states to implement what had already been agreed and create gender action plans where gaps exist.

SABC News Correspondent Sherwin Bryce-Peace has more details: