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“An attempt to challenge climate change with only men will be equivalent to fighting with half the resources”: COP26!

Sep 8, 2021

Close your eyes and a season will pass before you

had you the century’s gaze

of a coast live oak

It will not survive this, either

It sheds bark

breaks branch

Lovers’ carved symbols seeping their wound of sap”.

From Kristen George Bagdanov’s, Fossils in the Making***

Nishtha Singh currently works as senior manager at ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd. On weekends – she writes and researches on the 3Cs. Cyber Security & new technologies, Cryptocurrency and Climate risks. She also loves reading poetry. The title of the blog is her quote from  

Are there enough women in the COP26 leadership?

‘The numbers speak for themselves, tells me Nishtha. At the COP25 21% of the 196 heads of delegation were women. The Leadership team for COP26 consists of only15% women. The complete leadership team of host UK is male.’ Facing severe criticism – they have slightly amended the picture, by appointing two female directors (for Communications and Operations) and one female Champion (for Adaptation and Resilience). We need to see 50:50 vision at the negotiating table if this conference wants to be successful. The head of comms and operations won’t be at the negotiating table, as I understand.

The mammoth bureaucracies at the multilateral agencies operate in silos. ‘Since 2008, one of the main priorities of UNESCO, for instance, has been Gender Equality’, points out Nishtha. ‘They have been making sure gender equality is being promoted through their various activities as well as programmes. However, women across the world still have less access to proper education, employment, and basic resources. Gender equality and empowering women is also the main concern of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, which is one of the 17 goals established by the UN in 2015’.

‘Equal participation and leadership of women in political and public life is crucial to achieve the SDGs by 2030. However, achieving gender parity is not something we can expect in next nine years, she warns, ‘if women are underrepresented in important platforms like COP26’.

What needs to be done?

It may already be too late as the conference commences on October 31, 2021. However, Nishtha is not losing hope. And here is her set of prescriptions:

  • ‘A gender-responsive outcome at the COP26 would assist in setting the standard for implementation of gender-responsive climate policy.
  • Policies of the UN promote gender balance but in addition, the UN can invest in gender action plans. It can help countries in developing comprehensive projects that are built on unique knowledge and perspective of women.
  • Set goal for COP27: 50% women in leadership team.
  • Identifying gender sensitive strategies for tackling environmental and humanitarian crisis caused by climate change. Studies show women are more vulnerable post natural disasters because they are usually at higher risk of being placed at overcrowded and unsafe shelters due to lack of assets, like property or savings.
  • Gender sensitive strategies will promote enlisting women in natural disaster management decision-making processes and make use of their skills in mitigation and adaptation efforts’.

‘Women and children are vulnerable to climate change. Gender Equality is a human rights principle and to ensure climate related issues are taken up effectively, it is important to have women in the leadership. Gender divisions in climate are a must to tackle climate change. It is essential to make sure women have equal resource and space as men to participate in climate change decision making at all levels.’

Quoting Women Watch, she says: ‘The active participation of women in the development of funding criteria and allocation of resources for climate change initiatives is critical, particularly at local levels. Gender analysis of all budget lines and financial instruments for climate change is needed to ensure gender-sensitive investments in programmes for adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and capacity building.’

Are we listening?

***These lines, as well as the endings of many of the poems in Fossils in the Making leave us feeling unsettled. The collection causes us to feel as though we were on the edge of catastrophe, biding time as we go about our daily lives – it returns not only to our mortality as individuals, but to our collective mortality as residents of a planet in distress’’. (Source:

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