Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day – honoring women around the world and recognizing their amazing contributions to humanity.
This year, the occasion is dedicated to the theme ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’ as a way of acknowledging the fundamental role of women and girls in leading the way towards a brighter future.
Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis is a moral obligation. Women and girls are usually the first to bear the brunt of the environmental, economic, and social fallout of climate change. Sadly, women and children are 14 times more likely than men to die during a disaster.
Women also make up around 50 percent of agricultural workers in developing countries. As climate change increases the risk of droughts that can destroy crops, women, who are already in a fragile situation, will become poorer and have less to eat.
Shaping the response to climate change
So it is critical that women help shape the response to climate change. Women have the power to strengthen climate action through multiple ways. They can bring their unique experiences and valuable skills in disaster preparedness and risk management to the table when governments develop climate change adaptation plans.
Increasing numbers of women are becoming green investors, as they have a stronger preference than men for investments that prioritize environmental, social, and corporate governance factors.
In addition, women make a large proportion of household purchase decisions in areas that generate high emissions, such as food, travel, and energy, thus having the power to significantly reduce household emissions.
As mothers, they play a key role in educating children about the climate crisis to nurture the next generation of global citizens who can carry on the fight against climate change and make responsible decisions.
Remarkably, women have been actively participating in climate action and increasingly taking leadership roles. For the past 12 years, the UN agency responsible for supporting the global response to climate change, the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has been led by women – Christiana Figueres, the architect of the milestone Paris Agreement, and Patricia Espinosa, who remains at its helm to this day.
Mitigating impacts of climate change
Today, we celebrate these women and others, who stand as true inspirations and whose work has been pivotal to climate action, saving countless lives.
It’s a great pride for me personally to be the first woman to hold the position of Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE, and to lead the country’s drive to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Inclusion and diversity are critical for strong climate action. However, it is our job to create an environment that unlocks women’s potential through education, training, and re-skilling for jobs in the green economy.
I am confident that in this kind of environment, women will perform nothing short of miracles and become the changemakers to drive climate action.
On International Women’s Day, I call on governments and companies in the UAE and all over the world to leverage the power of women to build a climate-resilient future for all.
Let’s pave the way for an empowered world that truly harnesses women’s full potential.
Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri is the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment