Speaking at a side event on “Healthy Women, Healthy Planet
” in Durban, South Africa, Mary Robinson, chair of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health
, said they were seeing more female leadership at this year’s UN climate change conference
But Robinson, who is also chair of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice
, said there needs to be more explicit gender language in the COP-17 text to ensure that green climate funds support gender equity and money gets to women on the ground for adaptation.
“Our foundation has been helping to bring out women’s leadership at the top level in this conference to match women’s leadership at the community level,” explained Robinson, pointing out that the heads of the last three COPs are women.
Though the role of gender in climate adaptation and mitigation will likely not be prominently discussed on the floor at COP-17, Robinson said she looked forward to side conversations about a stronger focus on these issues.
Family planning, she argued, should also play a larger role. “There have been so many attempts to deflect from commitments and get into other kinds of issues that bring about some kind of stigma in this area,” said Robinson. But “those of us on the Global Leaders Council on Reproductive Health fundamentally believe in the central role played by reproductive health, access to knowledge about how to space children, and having choices about number of children.”
There are about 215 million women in the world who do not want to get pregnant but are not using modern contraception. Family planning and reproductive health services help build up a woman’s resilience to climate changes, Robinson explained.
These services are vital to improving women’s health and enable women to seek educational and work opportunities, unleashing their potential to help solve problems associated with climate change.
Brenda Zulu is a member of Women’s Edition for Population Reference Bureau and a freelance writer based in Zambia. Her reporting from the COP-17 meeting in Durban (see the “From Durban” series on New Security Beat) is part of a joint effort by the Aspen Institute, Population Action International, and the Wilson Center.
Sources: World Health Organization.
Image Credit: “Mary Robinson and Constance Okollet” at COP-17, used with permission courtesy of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice (MRFCJ).