November 14 2017
To mark Gender Day at the UN climate change conference in Bonn (COP23), Climate Visuals is releasing a new image gallery. It illustrates how women are often disproportionately affected by climate change due to differing gender roles and existing gender inequalities – but also celebrates women as leaders, innovators and agents of change.
This new gallery recognises the important role that gender plays in mediating the impacts of climate change, and people’s capacity to respond to it.
Showing through imagery the reality of how women are being affected by climate change, but also how they are responding, is a crucial step in dealing with and addressing the gender inequality that otherwise risks undermining progress at a global level.
The gender-climate link is something that doesn’t generally receive the attention it should in terms of public engagement.
Last year was one of the deadliest for women fighting on the front lines for human rights and environmental justice. Environmental defenders are being killed at the rate of almost four a week across the world, a staggering toll that disproportionately affects female activists and indigenous leaders. What´s more, women and children are 14 times more likely to die during natural disasters. Studies show that following climate disasters, it is generally harder for poor women to recover their economic positions than poor men.
These are stark and shocking statistics, but as with the often terrifying numbers that define the climate change discourse, they must be illustrated using compelling imagery that connects with viewers in order to cut through at a human level. And although several challenges remain to integrating gender issues more comprehensively into climate and energy policies on a global level, positive changes are emerging increasingly.
This week in Bonn at COP23, to ensure that climate policies will include a focus on gender equality and not weaken women’s rights, all governments have agreed on a Gender Action Plan. In the coming years, it will aim to increase the number of women climate-decision makers, train male and female policymakers on bringing gender equality into climate funding programmes and engage grassroots and indigenous women’s organisations for local climate action.
Women are increasingly building their resilience, adapting to the impacts of climate change, and becoming more empowered. Many of the images in this new gallery show this: women as agents of change in the fight for sustainability. And whether at the local level, or through their leadership at the highest levels of government, we need them to be resolute more than ever.
Sarah Hurtes is Media Associate at the European Climate Foundation