Climate talks 'need women'

Climate talks 'need women'

UN reps call for greater inclusion

Tall buildings are barely visible as haze blankets wide areas over the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok on Wednesday. Levels of PM2.5 ultra-fine dust are rising in many districts of Bangkok. (Photo: Pattanapong Hirunard)
Tall buildings are barely visible as haze blankets wide areas over the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok on Wednesday. Levels of PM2.5 ultra-fine dust are rising in many districts of Bangkok. (Photo: Pattanapong Hirunard)

Marking this year's International Women's Day, the United Nations has called for the inclusion of women as leading voices to address climate change and guard against natural risks.

The United Nations Thailand Headquarters, UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and Unescap co-hosted the Asia-Pacific Regional Commemoration of International Women's Day under the theme "Gender Equality Today for Sustainable Tomorrow", to raise awareness on the interrelating issues of gender equality and climate change.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, the UN's under secretary-general and Escap executive secretary, said the potential of women remained under-utilised in the region, as women are underrepresented in parliament and as environment-related ministers and policy-makers, even though many may be more sensitive to the effects of climate change than men.

"Despite the discrimination that women face, they should not be viewed as victims without agency. Having managed the sustainable use and conversation of biodiversity for generations, women and girls hold high essential knowledge and skills," she said.

Sarah Knibbs, of the UN Women Asia and the Pacific, said women's voices in decision-making are key to the inclusive participation of women in environmental issues.

"It is essential to ensure that women's experience, needs and concerns are brought to the forefront of environmental resource management and conservation," she said.

"Their meaningful participation in decision-making should be promoted in environment-related government bodies, the private sector, as well as natural resource management groups, including at the grassroots level."

Lilly Ralyn Satidtanasarn, an environmental activist who launched a campaign against single-use plastic bags in Thailand when she was eight years old, shared her experience as a young environmental campaigner, who has been discriminated against because of her gender and youth.

Ms Lilly said she was told by adult stakeholders that this area of environmental campaigning was not a place for young girls like her to speak up.

"After I grew frustrated with the lack of progress on my environmental campaigns, I started to reach out to those who have the power to change," she said.

"But even when I wrote to them expressing concern, the only reply I received told me I should focus on my studies and play with my friends. They said I should just let the adults do their work," she added.

"But this is my future, and this is my home, so I have to speak up."

She said the climate crisis is also a human rights issue, as millions of people are at risk of being displaced by climate disasters.

"We need to pave the way for women's voices to be heard. We can do this by implementing social education in school, teaching children to become world citizens and future world leaders," she said.

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