The Pacific has called for more recognition of the critical role of women and girls in climate resilience, at the opening plenary sessions of the Sixty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
Under the theme, ‘Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes’, CSW66 provides a platform to highlight the threat climate change and its impacts continue to have on the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of Pacific women and girls.
For the Pacific Islands Forum, Fiji Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr Satyendra Prasad called on the international community to take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reiterating Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ grave concern for the Blue Pacific Continent’s collective future as global emissions continue to rise. “The shared prosperity and security of our Blue Pacific can only safely exist if we pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as set out in the Paris Agreement” he said.
Ambassador Prasad emphasised the critical role of women and girls in building resilient communities.
“Recognising women’s and girls’ knowledge, capabilities, and skills, and empowering them, is vital to the safety and security of all Pacific families,” she said, “In Pacific communities, women have a history of adapting to climate change impacts to provide food and water for their families”.
Ambassador Prasad reminded the Session of the Pacific’s leadership on oceans which led to the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life Below Water) reaffirming the region’s stewardship of over 40 million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean, and the potential of the ocean to meet sustainable development needs if kept healthy.
Despite the many achievements in the region, Ambassador Prasad stated more still needs to be done. “The Pacific has one of the highest rates of violence globally. On average, two out of every three women experience some form of violence throughout their life. Evidence indicates a link between disasters, climate change, and gender-based violence and we have seen increased reports of domestic violence cases and the need for psychosocial support after disasters.”
“We must work together and build coalitions of support,” he said. “We need ambitious, transformative gender-responsive climate change action now across all platforms to secure our collective future…we need more women leading global responses to climate change to shape our global agenda for action.”
The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Henry Puna has welcomed the Pacific statement. Noting the inaugural Pacific Islands Forum Women Leaders Meeting will convene in 2022, SG Puna said the event will continue to ensure gender equality and social inclusion are embedded in actions to progress PIF Leaders’ priorities including climate and disaster risk resilience actions. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is also revitalising the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration providing another opportunity to ensure actions as agreed in platforms such as CSW and the Pacific Women’s Triennial Conference and Ministers for Women Meeting are embedded in high level regional policy frameworks.
SG Puna also welcomed the ‘strong, emphatic and determined’ calls from all Pacific ministers and representatives ensuring the voices and priorities of our Blue Continent were part of the global status of women for 2022. Other PIF Member countries will be delivering national statements in the first week of CSW66 including were delivered from Australia, Fiji, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa, and Tonga.
CSW66 runs as a hybrid conference until 25 March 2022, with member states, UN entities, and non-governmental organisations from around the world contributing to the session and an array of side events.