FEATURE: What the women said – conversations with LDC women negotiators in Bonn
By Jessica Sinclair Taylor, CDKN Global Communications Assistant and Tristan Stubbs, CDKN Global Communications Officer
Climate change is having a disproportionate effect on the lives of women in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). So now is the time to pay attention to the views of female negotiators from LDCs, who form a distinct minority in the UNFCCC discussions. In Bonn last week, CDKN spoke to several women negotiators working with WEDO to seek their views on the climate talks. Our conversations showed that female negotiators see a strong need for further capacity building and training to allow their full participation in the discussions, and to ensure that the UNFCCC process makes full use of women’s contributions.
From across the LDC delegations, the women CDKN spoke to echoed the magnified impact that climate change is having on poor women’s lives. With limited mobility, women are frequently the ones left behind to keep rural families going when men migrate to urban areas in search of work. As Meena Kanal, a negotiator from Nepal pointed out, women’s limited access to resources is both exacerbated by the effects of climate change, and reduces their ability to respond to its results.
Female negotiators at the convention were in a unique position to push for a greater focus on the gender dynamics of climate change. But the most common complaint was the lack of support for LDC representatives in general. Nguyen Hao, representing Vietnam, said that least developed country negotiators have a limited capacity to take a valued role in the negotiations due to a lack of comprehensive information and a fear of being sidelined, which means they often take an overtly strident tone in discussions. She called for funding and training for women negotiators. Nguyen was joined in her call by Bangladeshi’s only female negotiator, Ferdousi Begum, who in 2008 had to self-fund her trip to Bonn.
Despite their frustrations, the negotiators were clear on the outcomes they sought from the UNFCCC discussions. Effective gender mainstreaming featured prominently, with Liberia’s Sieane Abdul-Baki urging that more gender language be incorporated into the capacity building stream of the LCA discussions. She also sought a greater gender balance in the composition of the Technology Executive Committee. Sieane Abdul-Baki suggested that women could be trained to use software to provide comprehensive assessments of climate change impacts.
Several of the negotiators who spoke to CDKN focused on the need to support LDC delegations in producing evidence to back up their negotiating positions. Ulamila Wragg, from the Cook Islands, stressed the need for more research and case studies on the ground to match up with the abstract scientific models that inform the negotiations, while others welcomed capacity building to deal with the media in their countries. Judie Roy, from Haiti, emphasised the need for legal resources to allow LDC delegations to gain real traction on the floor of the plenary. Nguyen Hao looked for positive outcomes on NAMAs and MRV common guidelines so that LDCs could design their own national climate change activities.
The testimony of these women shows that greater support for LDC negotiators, both male and female, would bring sorely needed leverage in the remaining crucial climate change talks this year. CDKN will continue to work with LDC partners to provide assistance and advice for the UNFCCC process.
All the delegates interviewed were supported by the Women Delegates Fund (WDF). The WDF works to support women negotiators and build the capacity of LDCs and other developing countries. The WDF is provided by the Government of Finland and administered by WEDO.
Photo: Women from the village of Bouwéré in Mali. Photo: P.Casier (CGIAR).