Activists at COP28 Call for More Funding for Women’s Rights in Climate Justice Efforts

COP28 Panel Highlights Need for Gender Equality in Climate Justice Initiatives

by Adenike Adeodun

At the ongoing United Nations Climate Summit, COP28, women’s rights activists are making a strong case for enhancing financial support to women-led organisations. These groups, dedicated to promoting gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights, are seen as pivotal in the pursuit of climate justice.

Dr. Heather McMullen, a senior lecturer at the Centre for Public Health and Policy at Queen Mary University of London, stressed the significance of these rights during a panel discussion. “As the crisis intensifies, pre-existing societal inequalities are exacerbating the impact on vulnerable groups, particularly women,” McMullen stated, emphasizing the urgency of addressing these intersectional issues.

She pointed out the tendency of sexual and reproductive rights to be sidelined during crises, highlighting the need for persistent focus and funding in these areas. McMullen mentioned how climate-related issues like rising temperatures and floods are leading to diseases, but the impacts on gender and sexual health often remain overlooked.

In Zimbabwe, the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in March 2019 illustrated these challenges. NGOs reported increased incidents of gender-based violence, sexual abuse and hindered access to sexual and reproductive health services among women. In response, the government launched the Climate Change Gender Action Plan, aiming to integrate gender considerations into climate policy and decision-making processes.

According to a report by Newsday, Phelister Amondi Awuor, a representative of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa, echoed these sentiments at COP28. She called for equitable access to climate financing for grassroots African women, emphasizing their crucial role in policy-making and decision-making.

The discussions at COP28 have shed light on the interconnectedness of gender equality, sexual and reproductive health rights, and climate justice. Activists are pushing for this triad to be at the forefront of global climate policies, ensuring that women’s needs and perspectives are adequately represented and addressed.

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