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by Andrew Learmonth
09 November 2021
COP26 delegates told women are 'demanding to be empowered'

COP26 delegates told women are 'demanding to be empowered'

Women are not pleading to be supported but “demanding to be empowered”, delegates at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow have been told. 

The call came during a panel on “courageous conversations” led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 

Today the conference is focused on gender, which was also the subject of a new report from the UN that revealed that women are most at risk of the impacts of climate change. Alongside children, women make up 80 per cent of those displaced by climate-related disaster. 

Sturgeon said climate change must be treated as a “feminist issue”.

She told the audience: “We must make sure that the experiences of women and girls across the world, so often disproportionately impacted by climate change, are understood as we devise the solutions.

“And we must make sure that the voices of women are at the centre of creating and implementing the solutions to climate change.”

Tarcila Rivera Zea, a Quechua activist, and member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, told the panel: “We want to be heard so that we can create policies that include us, but we also want to be supported. We are not pleading for help, we can contribute our support. We want an investment. We don't want a donation. We want investment in the development of our skills, of women and girls, young people and young indigenous populations.”

Nicola Sturgeon said Zea's words resonated.  "Women are not pleading to be supported, we're demanding to be empowered. I think that is a very good strapline from our discussions."

The First Minister and the panel were introduced by Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the US. 

The Democrat was in Glasgow with 21 other American politicians, the largest Congressional delegation ever sent to a COP.

She told delegates: “We come here fresh from advancing the most ambitious and consequential climate and energy legislation of all time in our country.”

Pelosi said: “Now people ask me all the time, for many years, if you ruled the world, what one thing would you do? If I ruled the world, the one thing that I would do is invest in the education of women and girls and their empowerment.

“You and I know that makes all the difference in the world not just to their women, those women to their families, to the communities, to their countries, to the world.”

The First Minister also announced a new statement launched by the Scottish Government calling for the role of women and girls to be advanced in addressing climate change.

The Glasgow Women's Leadership Statement on gender equality and climate change has been backed by 14 countries, with New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, US national climate adviser Gina McCarthy and German federal environment minister Svenja Schulze among the first to sign it.

The statement will remain open for signatures until the 66th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, to be held in March 2022.

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