27 Sep 2019

Gender equality key to climate justice: Pacific women

5:37 am on 27 September 2019

Civil society groups in the Pacific say gender equality and women's rights are essential for climate justice.

Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls of the Shifting The Power Coalition has just returned from the Gender-Responsive Session at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York.

She said the session discussed ways to empower women to be a part of the solution to the global climate crisis.

She said gender equality must be incorporated into commitments made by UN member states and Pacific governments.

"You can't have a successful solution if 50 percent or more of the population are excluded from the start. So gender equality commitments are no longer an add-on. It's got to be a prerequisite. It's got to be integrated from the start."

Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls said climate justice must be inclusive.

Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls.

Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls. Photo: Twitter / Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls

Shifting The Power Coalition is a member of the Feminist Humanitarian Network.

Ms Bhagwan-Rolls said it worked across 13 organisations in six Pacific countries.

"In terms of the climate change action agenda, it's not simply about adding women to the mix," she said.

"But ensuring that if we want to make the progress - whether it's the current Sustainable Development Goals, the commitments to gender equality, the treaty commitments under the UN conventions and peace and security commitments to women - we have to look at new ways of supporting women."

New methods need to be organised to ensure climate action resources get to Pacific women on the ground, Ms Bhagwan-Rolls said.

"And more importantly, integrating women's knowledge, their indigenous traditional local knowledge into the kinds of responses that are being developed in light of climate change or the adaptation measures as well as the associated crises - whether it's local or national disasters."