Women & climate justice

By Atyab Al-Shatti

It is acknowledged and understood that there is a strong connection between gender equality and the environment. While evidence varies from one country to another, it collectively proves that gender equality has a positive impact on social and environmental development. If not tackled properly, environment initiatives, endeavors and protection practices reveal gender inequality. Anyone who is active in the legal, justice, humanitarian, environment and sustainable development arenas is aware of this connection between gender equality and climate justice.

In some Asian countries, women were excluded from decision making positions and environmental policy structuring processes, and only a few specialized female-focused groups were included. As a result, such countries failed to include a framework that secures environment protection where women are in the decision-making process and overlooked the different needs of men and women in forestry management due to the fact that they did not tackle women’s needs or furnished the suitable platform to address the geographic connection between women and the environment.

In some African countries, women already lack secure access to forests and informal norms and biases often result in women not getting invited to forest governance meetings. In these countries, and in almost three-quarters of households without drinkable water, women are primarily responsible for collecting it. While they have sufficient knowledge to address risks, threats and main challenges to obtain water for the nation and therefore without an intentional focus on and inclusion of gender concerns, these strategies shall fail to meet environmental sustainability.

In Kuwait, the lack of women’s representation in the parliament and decision-making positions, and with the government not adopting a quota system for women in the parliament of any form for women’s political empowerment and assigning certain chairs for them, is an obvious bias against their gender, in spite of the fact that there are many Kuwaiti women who have sufficient qualifications and credentials to tackle climate risks and help achieve climate justice.

On the other hand, with men with the same credentials taking over these positions, such discrimination will hinder environment protection, as women are not involved the strategies that will come out, which will suffer from serious legal vacuums. If an individual obtains the required credentials, such a person should be in the right position regardless of their gender. In fact, including women in such positions shall enhance the legislative process and help achieve successful environmental sustainability strategies.

Although many nongovernmental efforts focused on different entry points into the nexus of gender, education, leadership, and climate change, there is much more room for aligning gender equality and climate justice, and the solution should start on a government level where there must be an adoption of national mechanisms that empower women politically and help them reach decision-making positions, considering the fact that Kuwait still suffers from the pollution that took place post the invasion back in 1990, and today the new generations deserve to live in a better environment.

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