Calling for gender and climate justice at CSW66

We, MenEngage Alliance, in partnership with youth climate movement Fridays for Future Bangladesh and indigenous organizations, including Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE), Uganda, gather on the occasion of the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, at a moment of existential risk for humanity.

Climate change is one of the most urgent global challenges facing the world today, with immediate impacts already being felt around the globe, although unequally, with many contexts and communities in the Global South who, as we speak, are experiencing devastating and deadly consequences to the climate crisis.

We stand firmly behind, and with, the leadership of feminist climate activists, indigenous people, and youth climate movements in challenging the dominant patriarchal – socio-economic and political systems perpetuating climate change. We stand by their calls for systemic transformation and a just transition to green economies of care.

The causes and the threats of climate change are not gender neutral

We know that the causes and the threats of climate change are not gender neutral. Gender analysis over the past three decades has brought to light the disproportionate effects of climate change and environmental degradation on the lives of women, girls and people of diverse gender identities. Those who live at the intersections of multiple forms of oppression and marginalization in the Global South are particularly impacted.

Ecofeminist analysis has unpacked how climate change is rooted in histories of colonial resource extraction and capitalist industrial production. These masculinist, patriarchal, colonial, eurocentric, Global-North, hegemonic structures of power and dominance continue today to exploit natural resources with disregard for people and planet, escalating inequalities around the world.

We see the continued expansion of an economic model shaped by the whims of a tiny minority of elite corporate interests which increase inequalities and poverty for the majority already marginalized, rendering people uncared for, unheard, and invisible. We must end the current patriarchal patterns of exploitation, extractive economic models and financial systems, and their many forms of control over bodies, land and livelihoods, entrenched within political systems of privileges and power hierarchies.

Furthermore, the global COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the flaws of our care system and the unacceptable levels of inequality in access to care all over the world. We see the escalating levels of femicides and gender-based violence against women, girls and individuals of diverse gender identities – the longest standing pandemic in humanity. We witness the increasing limitations for individual and collective mobilization, protest and freedom of assembly, as well as the shrinking of civil society spaces for those committed to justice; and we see increased attacks on human and environmental rights defenders all over the world.

We witness a surge in militarism and authoritarian governments around the world with escalating use of repressive tactics of social control, recently under the guise of curbing the spread of COVID-19; and armed violence against minorities as a means to consolidate regimes. These forms of power over people and planet are well-funded and inclusive of anti-rights movements that systematically attack gender equality, women’s rights, the rights of LGBTQI people and racial justice. All the while, a failure of transformative climate action continues. The time for change is now.

We need to better understand how harmful ideals of manhood, i.e. masculinities that include the need to have power over others – ‘others’ often understood as women, less powerful men, children and nature – destroy livelihoods and perpetuate environmental degradation. We must further explore and unpack these root causes of the climate crisis. Doing so, we will be able to help strengthen future and existing solutions for climate change adaptation & resilience, by exposing the harms of patriarchal masculinities & working with men & boys as allies to transform power structures alongside feminist, indigenous and youth climate movements.

Through intersectional feminist approaches that are accountable to our planet and to all women, girls, and gender non-conforming individuals and marginalized groups, we commit to centering our work on human-rights based & gender-transformative practices.

Call to Action

We urge governments today to center the voices, the leadership and the political agendas of feminist, indigenous & youth climate justice activists and human-and-environmental rights defenders and movements, everywhere. We urge governments today to take bold and transformative actions for climate, gender and social justice. The international scientific community has long-established the magnitude and urgency of the climate crisis. Governments must heed their calls with the scale and urgency demanded by climate science and climate activists.

Leaders must be held to account for their actions, or more appropriately, their inactions. Political complacency, delay, and excuses must be seen for what they are: gross failures of leadership, and a tragic failure for humanity and all life on Earth. We call for ending all impunity for decision-makers and holding men in positions of power – in corporations, financial institutions and governments – accountable for their environmentally destructive practices. Men who are guilty of ecological destruction or ecocide should be prosecuted in order to prevent further crimes.

We call for work and advocacy with boys and men on their multiple roles and responsibilities in the climate crisis and to put forward analyses on the interconnections between patriarchal masculinities & their contributing role in perpetuating the climate crisis. Make the harm of men in power positions visible and make the link with patriarchal structures and norms clear. We stand by- and urge all governments today to act in alignment with the principles and advocacy asks laid out by Friday’s for Future for “No More Empty Promises” including for:

a) A moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects. End all investments in the industry;

b) Annual and binding carbon budgets; c) Economic, racial and gender justice in climate policy;

d) Protect and safeguard democracy. Citizen participation in climate decision making; and

e) Making ecocide an international crime.

14 February 2022