International Work


Is COP25 feminist?

Gender should be negotiated at the highest level at COP25. But what has happened so far?

It is difficult to find amongst the reports, press conferences and activities of this COP25 an analysis on how the climate crisis specifically affects women. 

The Paris Agreement, which will regulate climate action from 2020, divides the world into two: developed countries and developing countries. These two large groups have "differentiated responsibilities", for example in terms of financing. Therefore, as agreed in Paris, it will be the developed countries who will give money to the developing countries, so that they can reduce emissions and better adapt to climate change. 

But this, let's say, didn't go too well in the first week. Similarly to the Loss and Damage issues, the gender agenda is of concern in these discussions about financing and whether the gender perspective can be integrated into the hot topics of this COP.

Losses and Damages In An Unequal World

In the coming years, the world's populations will have to adapt to climate change, natural disasters will be more frequent and more intense, according to the latest report released by the World Meteorological Organization. How to prevent the worst impacts? How to mitigate the consequences of hurricanes or floods?

One of the biggest challenges of this Summit will be climate finance. Issues such as the so-called Loss and Damage will have to be resolved before the final day arrives and the delegations leave Madrid. This issue is crucial for developing countries, because  the amount of resources they will need to prevent these damages and to cope with famines, floods, droughts and cyclones will depend on the final verdict.

According to the Women & Gender Constituency (WGC), one of the most important gender observers at COP25, the effects of climate change affect women and men differently. "Structural gender inequalities are exacerbated by the impacts of droughts, floods and other natural disasters and ecosystem degradations". According to WGC, this would mean that emissions would have to be drastically reduced, while a transformative and gender-sensitive model of development would have to be generated.

Integrating feminist perspectives in the discussion of Loss and Damage is important because they are the ones that normally take their families forward and have more family members depending on them. In addition, they are those who in many cases cultivate the land, collect food and seek water. By changing rainfall and temperatures, water would be harder to find and agriculture would be more difficult to sustain. How to support, facilitate resources and support women in these cases? How to face the consequences of climate change without repatriating and deepening gender roles?

The Climatic Escape

Climate change is today the first migratory cause in the world. According to the latest UN report, natural disasters and extreme weather events force 40 million people to leave their homes each year. This figure will increase to 200 million by 2050 if countries do not take sufficient measures to mitigate global warming. UNHCR estimates that women and girls account for about 50% of the refugee, internally displaced or stateless population.

Natural disasters in many cases make women and girls decide to migrate to other countries or other regions within the country. According to the ECODES report, they would face different forms of sexist violence throughout the migration process. 

Several reports by Amnesty International and Women’s Link Worldwide warn of rapes and sexual assaults suffered by migrants, for example, in Central American  to reach the US or sub-Saharan migrants to reach Spain. The systematization of the violation means that even the traffickers who take them from one place to another force them to give themselves a contraceptive injection before traveling. These aggressions also occur in the refugee camps themselves.

Another problem added is human trafficking. For example, in Southeast Asia, cases of women who migrated from Bangladesh to India due to the impacts of climate change were sold as wives or for sexual exploitation.

If they manage to enter the country of destination and have a situation of immigration legality, the jobs they find are normally poorly paid and have poor conditions. This also causes them to face more health and safety problems.

There are also many who stay, who decide not to migrate or who are trapped to stay in the place where they live, while their husbands leave. In some places, the fact of heading a home without the presence of the family man is stigmatized. In addition, when men migrate, normally women assume very high workloads and care.

Climate Justice Without Social Justice?

The latest reports of the IPCC and the World Meteorological Organization stress that we are on our way to increasing the average temperature of the planet by more than 3 degrees, unless countries, especially the most polluting, reduce emissions drastically.

The Women & Gender Constituency explains that it would be very beneficial to take into account the activities carried out by women. They are often the ones who preserve traditional knowledge, initiate renewable energy cooperatives, decolonize agriculture, preserve biodiversity and improve soil fertility fighting deforestation. It is them, rural and indigenous women who put themselves at the forefront of battle against large corporations, facing threats and violence, to defend the environment. 

Having these practices as an example could mark a good roadmap for new and more ambitious emission reduction projects. "Gender equality and the protection of women's human rights are necessary to act effectively on climate issues."

We will have to wait a few days to see how the feminist agenda is integrated into the final verdict. If they will continue to decorate the voluntary preamble of the Paris Agreement or seek to increase the presence of gender, not only in decision-making, but also in one of the star themes of this summit: financing. Will there be resources to alleviate some of these problems? Will they support the ways of life that are respectful of the planet?

In short, can climate justice be addressed without social justice?


The article is written by Andrea A. Gálvez

To strengthen climate journalism around the globe, the FES Media Fellowship cooperates with Climate Tracker and supports four young journalists, Andrea A. Gálvezfrom Spain, Kartik Chandramouli from India, Petr Vodsedalekfrom Czech Republic and Leopold Obi from Kenya who participate in this program. They receive a climate media training, report from COP25 and take part in FES events as well.

More about FES@COP25: www.fes.de/cop25


Globale Politik und Entwicklung | Internationale Entwicklungszusammenarbeit | Globale und Europäische Politik

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