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Mexico’s Ministers tackle dual challenges of gender inequality and climate change

Source: IUCN - Género y Ambiente

24 Aug 2010 - National and state-level ministers of the environment gathered in Mexico on Friday as the country pushes forward its plans to improve equality between men and women, enhancing its capacity to respond to the threats of climate change.

The ministers, met on the third and final day of a high-level 'training of trainers’ workshop for senior policy makers from across Mexico’s states and sectors, run by the Global Gender and Climate Change Alliance (GGCA), in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Heinrich Boll Foundation.

The workshops aim to raise awareness and capacity in dealing with climate change challenges through an improved response to the differing needs of men and women. They demonstrate Mexico’s willingness to implement policies that will mainstream gender equality in climate change initiatives at national, regional and international levels.

As Lorena Aguilar, IUCN’s Senior Advisor on Gender, explains “Through its history, Mexico has been a champion in the promotion of gender equality, and is looked up to by other countries, as a guide and inspiration in this area.  Therefore, establishing alliances with Mexican decision makers related to climate change is vital to ensure that women’s voices are heard in climate change negotiations, both nationally and globally.”

Similar training sessions held by GGCA and IUCN in 2009 were attended by over 120 experts from more than 45 countries in 2010 and the resulting global network of gender and climate change advocates continues to grow. The training content is based on the IUCN/GGCA “Training Manual on Gender and Climate Change” and covers such important issues as: the links between gender, climate change and poverty; gender and adaptation strategies; gender and REDD; and gender and related funding mechanisms.

Launching the landmark training manual, Julia Morton-Lefčvre, IUCN’s Director-General, and Winnie Byanyima, Director of UNDP’s Gender Team explain the crucial importance of this issue to the planet’s future: “…women and men experience climate change differently, and…inequalities worsen women’s coping capacity. It has also been acknowledged that women are important actors of change and holders of significant knowledge and skills related to mitigation, adaptation, and the reduction of risks in the face of climate change, making them crucial agents in this area. Consequently, there is an urgent need to adopt a gender-responsive approach towards climate change policy making and programming”.

During the first 2 days of the training, high-level politicians from the Ministry of Environment participated in the training workshops, followed by senior representatives from NGOs such as Greenpeace and Oxfam. The three-day programme closed on Friday with discussions with the women’s business network of Mexico, at which the Minister of Environment will be present.

As Magdy Martinez-Soliman, UNDP Representative in Mexico, explained at the workshops, addressing gender and climate change together is more than just dealing with two separate challenges in parallel: “On numerous occasions, it has been reiterated that the linkages between both themes are not just about a simple exercise in addition. It is not just a case of lumping gender issues together with those of climate change and vice versa. I am sure that everyone here will agree that the climatic crisis and the inequalities between men and women are problems of development, and therefore development has the answers. Consequently, we need tools to tackle both problems in defining appropriate public policy.”