PH pushes for gender rights in climate negotiations

Renee Juliene Karunungan
The Philippines proposes that 'parties should be guided by gender equality and ensure the full and equal participation of women in all climate actions and decision making processes'

WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE. Women contribute greatly to both national and household food security, and yet their efforts are left 'invisible and undervalued,' says the Food and Agriculture Organization. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler.com

BONN, Germany – Human rights and gender rights should be included the text of the climate negotiations, the Philippines urged on Monday, October 19, during the Bonn climate change conference.

This is in light of the frustrations arising from different countries after the text was whittled down to 20 pages, reflecting nothing from past negotiations.

Negotiating blocks such as the G77, Alliance of Small Island States, and Like Minded Developing Countries have called the text an “injustice,” “imbalanced and lopsided,” “disadvantages and excludes.” Meanwhile, some civil society organizations and environmental groups have started using #UStext to refer to the text. (WATCH: Closing the gender gap in agriculture)

Since the text lacked discussions from past negotiations, countries demanded that the text be opened for “surgical insertions,” allowing countries to put back whatever they thought were the “absolute must-haves.” These insertions were deemed crucial in order for the negotiations to move forward, especially since it was at a deadlock as several countries rejected the text.

“It was naive for co-chairs to assume that parties will accept the text,” said Elenita Daño, Asia Director of Erosion, Technology and Concentration. “You don’t go into negotiations knowing that it’s a losing battle. You enter a game where you agree to the rules. It was good to see developing countries speaking as one and reclaiming the text,” she added.

PH on human, gender rights

The Philippines submitted an insertion on human and gender rights to the preamble and the operational praragraph of the text. The Philippines proposed that “parties should be guided by gender equality and ensure the full and equal participation of women in all climate actions and decision making processes.”

Tony La Viña, a negotiator from the Philippines said that, “Climate change is creating human rights violations. A global climate regime without human rights in the center does not make sense.”

The Women and Gender Constituency said that they were “concerned and surprised” to see that human rights and gender equality “have been completely left out” of the earlier text.

“We are happy that the Philippines put that on the table yesterday. It is important for us to have human rights and gender equality in the text,” Daño added.

“Climate change is so central, so real for women than for anyone else,” said Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.

“It is a no-brainer and it’s sad to see that we are having to struggle so much when it comes to referencing gender rights in the text. Unless you have women and gender in the preamble and the objectives, the response to climate change will not be clear. In order to address climate change, you have to involve half of the world’s population,” Puri continued.

Asked about countries that have difficulties in supporting gender rights such as Saudi Arabia, Puri said they have a good sense that “almost everybody now understands why it is important to have women and gender reflected in the text.”

Other countries pushing for the same advocacy are Mexico and Bolivia.

The negotiations continue in Bonn, Germany with a new draft text. Countries are expected to work on ensuring that a strong foundation for a climate agreement is made before the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, France in December.

The COP is a yearly meeting of countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that hopes to solve the climate crisis. A climate agreement in Paris will be crucial to stop global warming below 2ºC from pre-industrial levels. – Rappler.com

Renee Juliene Karunungan is the Communications Director and climate campaigner of Dakila. Dakila is an organization that has been working on climate justice since 2009. She is also a climate tracker for Adopt A Negotiator.