COP15 Montreal: Target 22 on gender equality approved but word ‘responsive’ still in brackets

Participation, capacity building and financial access to women from all walks of life non-negotiable in Post-2020 GBF  

By Shuchita Jha
Published: Wednesday 14 December 2022
COP15 Montreal: Target 22 on gender equality, approved but word ‘responsive’ still in brackets
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

Leaders of various civil societies and non-government organisations, in a briefing about inclusion and representation of women in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), demanded the removal of ‘responsive’ work in Target 22. It talks about the participation of women in conservation and protection of biodiversity. 

They added that the Post-2020 GBF needs to have human rights at its core. 

Cécile Bibiane Ndjebet, president of The African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests from Cameroon, said the important thing was the implementation of the policies in the framework and not just mentioning them in the document. 

She urged for gender-responsive indicators to gauge the progress and allow upscaling of efforts as and when needed. 

“Even if we have funding, we do not give opportunities to women. We need to give them direct access to funding to help them upscale what they have been building, how much they have been doing in biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, and fighting against climate change. We also need to ensure that women are able to exchange knowledge and experience across continents and for this we need adequate resources and capacity building,” she said. 

Benjamin Schachter, human rights officer and environment team leader at the United Nations Human Rights Office, said the Post-2020 GBF must be supported by a strong gender-action plan and a monitoring plan that will create accountability. He added that it was not just one piece of text that was needed but an entire package, with gender equality and human rights at the centre of the GBF. 

Cecilia Githaiga, advocate, High Court of Kenya specialising in indigenous peoples and local communities, children, human and women’s rights emphasised for a non-discriminatory framework that ensures that each and every person across the world is accounted for in the GBF. She urged that capacity building be done keeping in mind that women are at different levels in the society. 

“Indigenous women and girls, across societies, have sensitivities of their own that need to be taken into account. We need to be very specific and deliberate while making indicators in the plans, because when we have this GBF, we should be able to account for each and every person in the society,” she said. 

Archana Soreng, member of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and climate activist from India, threw light on the importance of acknowledging and supporting traditional knowledge as well as the practices and rights of indigenous communities over their lands and forests in gender responsive policies. 

She said there has been inferiorisation and marginalisation of indigenous communities, local communities and afro-descendent communities, especially women and girls over many decades and that looked down upon their traditions, cultures, languages and practices, identity and livelihood.

“It is only now that the world is recognising our role and contribution towards climate action and biodiversity conservation. These injustices need to be undone and approached from the lens of respect and solidarity. You cannot ask indigenous people to engaged in policy making processes and decision-making and leadership when for years they were looked down upon for those cultures and identities which has led to identity crisis among people,” she said.

It was important to identify hurdles and challenges being faced by indigenous women and girls because, across the globe, there are communities still living under the threat of eviction and displacement, land grabbing, migration, she added. “Even then, indigenous people continue contributing to nature and biodiversity conservation.”

“We cannot continue doing this when we are fearing for our lives and living under such threats of eviction and displacement and land grabbing. These issues need to be addressed in policy making. Women and young girls should be leaders of climate action and biodiversity conservation and not victims of climate and biodiversity policies. Important to have free, prior and informed consent of the local people and indigenous communities and their adequate consultation,” she said. 

Alejandre Durate, activist for biodiversity in the Global Youth Biodiversity Network and a volunteer in the Jovenes Ambientales del Bicentenario of the Ministry of the Environment from Peru, spoke about the importance of having a ‘gender responsive’ action plan. This will allow judicious use of Living Modified Organisms as mentioned in the Cartagena Protocol, she added. 

Research shows that it has negative effects on health, and these effects were more pronounced in lactating mothers as there were traces of LMOs in their breast milk that they were feeding their children, Durate said. She hoped that the word ‘responsive’ would be unbracketed in the GBF. 

“There are lots of references to human rights in brackets, and it is important that we remove the brackets. Rights-based approaches, gender responsiveness, inclusion and participation are not just legal obligations, they also lead to better outcomes to protect people and the environment,” Schachter added.

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