On the 19th of June 2023, the first round of the CoFe Table Talks was held.
Feminist leaders from Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran and Nigeria came together to discuss the unfair weight of climate change on women’s shoulders in climate-affected countries, as well as the reforms needed in order to remove the barriers that prevent women from taking the lead in climate action.
The voices of the women around these CoFe tables are crucial, not only because of their valuable insights as feminist leaders, but also because of the knowledge they have gathered from lived experience of climate change and its effects on communities in their countries, and in particular on women.
One of them is Razia Sultana, founder and director of the Rights for Women and Welfare Society, and director of Arakan Rohingya National Organization. She is based in the Cox Bazar region in Bangladesh and witnesses how the lack of clean water leads to people in the Rohingya Refugee Camps to get diseases such as jaundice. Unfortunately, as Razia explained, while men sometimes can get medical treatments, women tend to be deprived of it. Annam Chaudhry, first Norwegian Pakistani assigned at the climate delegation of the United Nations, has seen with her own eyes how women are the most affected by floods in the region of Pakistan where these environmental disasters occur. Cathy Cao, agricultural development specialist from China, has done several field visits in rural areas of Asia Pacific, where she has observed that women are key labor force in agricultural food system, and at the front line for climate change issues, but that there is a lack of resources and support for them to take climate action.
“Research shows that women have unique knowledge and skills that can be valuable in climate action. They are often the primer users of natural resources and they have a deep understanding of how these resources are going to be used and managed. (..)
This is not only about helping women, but also acknowledging that including women in climate action can help build more equitable and sustainable societies”
- Annam Chaudhry
During the meeting, the present feminist leaders agreed that women from climate affected countries urgently need to be included on a global level in the discussions concerning climate action and sustainable future. At COP28, 50% of the representatives of governments, companies, non-profit and other stakeholders of the world should be women. Besides, all multilateral processes need to be democratized both from a gender perspective, but also global south- global north perspective.
On the local level, women need to be empowered by getting access to resources and support from local, national and international authorities. This requires that they get access to education, including around climate change. Moreover, safe spaces have to be created in order for women affected by climate change to express themselves. We need to ensure that women have access to forums where they can discuss with other stakeholders and learn about the ongoing issues regarding climate change.
Watch the first session of the CoFe Table Talks on Feminist Leaderhsip in climate justice below. You can also access it by clicking here.