Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow: Why Women Are Key in the Race Against Climate Change


Joint International Women’s Day 2022 OP-ED by
UN Women, UNDP, IFAD, UNFPA and UNEP China Offices

Women still rarely hold the rank of First Secretary in China’s villages. Photo: UN Women/Qiu Bi
Women still rarely hold the rank of First Secretary in China’s villages. Photo: UN Women/Qiu Bi


For millennia, ‘Mother Nature’ has personified our planet. Rooted in ancient philosophy from around the world, she reflects Earth’s ability to give — and nurture — life.

Globally though, women are yet to gain equal opportunities and rights to men, while the world they share is in immediate danger. Climate change is already here. As UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, warned recently, many ecosystems have reached the point of no return and nearly half of humanity now lives in peril.[1]

The frequency of climate disasters varies across communities, as do vulnerabilities arising from them. Yet one thing is constant: while women are at the forefront of climate action, they face greater risks. Women are responsible for more than 70 per cent of water management and collection worldwide,[2] and constitute, on average, 43 per cent of agricultural labour in developing countries.[3] However, they lack the same tools as men to manage changes in their climate: while women are more likely to report a climate shock,[4] they are less likely to receive information about it.

In climate action, the green transition, and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), the rights and needs of women and girls must be met, to protect and empower them, and thus strengthen resilience across society. Only by mobilizing everyone’s potential can we fight climate change together.

Themed “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” this International Women’s Day, we recognize the leadership and contribution of women and girls around the world to climate mitigation and adaptation. We also call for their rights, along with their crucial role in climate action to be fully reflected in climate policies, programmes, and investments.

To ensure this, five areas must be tackled:

First, women’s environmental leadership and rights must be better supported. Currently, their participation is too low to influence decisions and policies: in 2020, just 15 per cent of environmental ministers globally were women, up from 12 per cent in 2015.[5] This is exacerbated by structural inequalities, including their high burden of unpaid care and household work, gender-based violence, as well as limited access to resources, like land. These gaps are of critical concern, as existing evidence shows that women’s participation leads to better resource management and climate interventions, along with stricter climate policies, resulting in lower emissions.[6] It is therefore vital that everyone — including governments, the private sector, and society — empowers women and girls, by giving them tools and training to lead on environmental issues. For example, between 2015 and 2020, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in partnership with UN Women, worked with Qinghai’s provincial government to train rural women on climate-smart agriculture and maintaining crop diversity. Reaching close to 70,000 rural women in Qinghai, the project saw many emerge as community leaders, lifting food production, incomes, and resilience, including to climate change and COVID-19.

Second, gender perspectives must be integrated into climate decision-making. Women are disproportionally exposed to natural hazards and pollutants, due to their high participation in agriculture, textiles, and manufacturing, while lacking information and resources to protect themselves. Currently, just 24 per cent of 120 countries identify gender equality institutions as part of climate governance, with only 27 per cent emphasizing women’s participation.[7] Going forward, gender-responsive environmental policies and programmes can be expanded by boosting decision-maker capacities through training, while enhancing coordination between sectors. Governments should apply gender-disaggregated statistics, ensure women are equally consulted and those gender considerations are included throughout the policy-making process.

Third, gender-responsive, just transitions require ending labour market discrimination, so more women can enter and lead in the green and blue economies. In 2019, women made up only 27.1 per cent of China’s power sector workforce.[8] Yet, globally, an estimated 80 per cent of new jobs created by dismantling fossil fuel dependency will be in areas currently dominated by men.[9] As such, eliminating occupational segregation and gender-based discrimination in labour markets, while promoting women’s equal access to decent work in green and blue economies, is key to a just green transition. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in China has supported thousands of young women in gaining vocational training and accessing jobs in the traditionally male-dominated hydrogen-powered vehicle sector. Empowering women presents a win-win opportunity for developing clean energy, as it contributes to a more inclusive workforce, as well as a larger human capital base to sustain growth.

Fourth, within the much-needed boost to public and private climate financing, greater attention must be given to gender-responsive climate adaptation and mitigation. This requires more funding for climate projects explicitly tackling climate effects on women while empowering women to take climate action. It also calls for more funding for women’s rights organizations and institutions. For example, from 2022, the International Fund for Agricultural Development set a global target for at least 35 per cent of all new projects to transform women’s lives.[10] The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) supports women across the Asia-Pacific in accessing finance and technology to build renewable energy businesses, enabling climate-resilient livelihoods.

Finally, ensuring women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in environmental disasters is crucial. The destruction of infrastructure, roads, and clinics by climate and environmental crises curtail those rights when goods and services become unavailable. Therefore, health systems and service delivery must be strengthened, increasing information and psychosocial support around disasters. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) works with China’s government and other partners to help people adapt to climate change, including providing necessary health services and preventing violence against women during crises.

As we all look to build back better from COVID-19, UN Women, UNDP, IFAD, UNFPA, and UNEP are uniting to advance gender equality across climate action, through enhanced cooperation with China’s government and other partners. However, all of society is needed — including the private sector and every community — to give women the tools, data, and training to be equally equipped in the task of protecting our planet – and equally protected in its increasingly unpredictable future.



2022 年国际妇女节联合评论文章: 安思齐(联合国妇女署)、白雅婷(联合国开发计划署)、马泰奥(联合国国际农业发展基金)、康嘉婷(联合国人口基金),涂瑞和(联合国环境规划署

Women still rarely hold the rank of First Secretary in China’s villages. Photo: UN Women/Qiu Bi
照片: 联合国妇女署/Qiu Bi



在全球范围内,女性尚未获得与男性平等的机会和权利,但她们所共处的世界正处于直接危险之中:气候变化已经到来。 正如联合国秘书长安东尼奥·古特雷斯(António Guterres) 最近的警告,许多生态系统已经到了无法回头的地步,当下,近一半的人类生活在严重风险之中。

由于各社区受气候相关灾害影响程度不同,因此其脆弱性也因社区而异。但有一点是不变的:女性仍处于气候行动前线,但却面临着更大的风险。在世界范围内,70%以上的水管理和收集工作由女性承担,农业劳动力的女性占比在发展中国家的均值也有 43%。然而,她们缺乏与男性相同的资源来应对气候变化:由于缺乏相关预警信息和知识,前线女性比男性更易遭受气候冲击。


因此,2022 年 3 月 8 日国际妇女节(IWD 2022)的主题是“性别平等共创可持续未来”。我们承认世界各地的妇女和女童在减缓和适应气候变化方面的领导作用和贡献。我们还呼吁: 妇女和女童的权利和需求,以及她们在气候行动中发挥的关键作用,应充分反映在当前的气候政策、方案和投资中。


首先,必须更好地支持妇女和女童在气候和环境方面的领导力提升和权益保障。 妇女和女童目前的参与程度还没有达到影响决策和政策的地步。2020 年,在全球范围内,环境部门的部长中仅有 15 是女性,而 2015 年这一数据是 12。现有的结构性不平等进一步阻碍了她们的有效参与,包括无偿照料和家务劳动的沉重负担、基于性别的暴力,以及获得土地等其他资源的机会有限等。这些性别差距引起了广泛关切,因为女性的平等参与才能使资源管理和气候干预更加有效,加之更加严格的气候政策,最终才能实现减排。 因此,包括政府、私营部门和社会在内的每一个人都要赋权妇女和女童,为她们提供工具和培训,让她们更好地在环境解决问题中发挥领导作用。例如,在 2015 年至 2020 年期间,联合国国际农业发展基金(IFAD)与联合国妇女署(UN Women)一起,与青海省政府合作,为农村女性提供气候智慧型农业以及如何保持作物多样性的培训。该项目惠及青海省近 7 万名

农村女性,许多女性农民成为所在社区的领导者,推动了粮食生产,实现了增收,提高了抵御冲击的能力,包括气候变化和 2019 冠状病毒病(亦称“新冠”)带来的冲击。

第二,性别考量必须纳入气候决策中。由于女性大量参与农业、纺织业和制造业,同时缺乏相关的信息、资源和支持来保护自己,她们也不成比例地暴露在自然灾害和污染物之下。目前的分析显示,在 120 个国家中,只有 24% 的国家将国家性别平等机构确定为气候变化治理的一部分,只有 27%的国家指出了女性参与气候行动决策的重要性。 通过培训提高决策者的能力,同时加强部门之间的协调,有助于制定和实施促进性别平等的环境政策和方案。各国政府应确保采用区分性别的统计数据,平等地征求女性意见,并将性别考量纳入气候和环境方案制定全过程。

第三,要想实现促进性别平等的公正过渡,就必须消除劳动力市场歧视,使更多女性在蓝色经济和绿色经济中发挥领导作用。2019 年,在中国能源行业,女性占比员工总数的 27.1 。绿色经济领域也不例外。放眼全球,在为减轻对化石燃料的依赖而创造的新兴经济领域, 约 80 的岗位仍由男性占主导。因此,消除劳动力市场的职业藩篱和性别偏见,推动女性平等获得体面工作,对公正、绿色转型至关重要。比如,在以男性为主导的氢能汽车行业中,联合国开发计划署(UNDP)为数千名中国女性提供职业教育和就业机会。我们认为, 对于清洁能源行业来说,赋能女性是个一举两得的机会,因为这不仅能推动劳动力包容发展,同时也能扩大劳动力市场以支持行业的持续增长。

第四,作为提升公共和私人气候融资的必要一环,我们要更加重视促进性别平等的气候适应和减缓举措。这要求我们明晰气候变化与女性的关系以及其中存在的问题,并为切实解决这些问题的项目提供更多资金,同时赋予女性采取有效气候行动的能力。增加对女性权利组织和机构的直接资助也至关重要。例如,从 2022 年开始,国际农发基金设定全球范围内至少 35 的新项目需要具有系统性性别视角。联合国环境规划署(UNEP)支持亚太地区的女性获得资金和技术,以建立可再生能源业务,从而实现气候适应性的生计。


为更好地从 2019 冠状病毒病中恢复过来,联合国妇女署、联合国开发计划署、联合国国际农业发展基金、联合国人口基金和联合国环境规划署将通过加强联合国与中国政府和其他合作伙伴的合作,来推进气候行动中的性别平等。然而,整个社会,包括私营部门和每个社区都需要共同努力,才能确保女性能够平等地获得工具、数据和培训,平等地为保护地球发挥作用,并在地球日益不可预测的未来得到平等的保护。


  1. Secretary-General's video message to the Press Conference Launch of IPCC Report, February 2022
  2. Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), Policy Brief: The Gender Dimensions of Water and Climate Change
  3. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2011, Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development
  4. International Food and Policy Research Institute, Gender and Climate Change Adaptation in Uganda: Insights from Rakai, October 2015, Project Note No.3
  5. ibid
  6. Report of the United Nations Secretary-General. 4 January 2022. “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.” United Nations Economic and Social Council.
  7. UNDP, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Global Outlook Report 2021
  8. National Bureau of Statistics of China 2019, Men and Women in Chinese society
  9. Saget, Catherine, Vogt-Schilb, Adrien and Luu, Trang (2020). Jobs in a Net-Zero Emissions Future in Latin America and the Caribbean. Inter- American Development Bank and International Labour Organization, Washington D.C. and Geneva.
  10. International Fund for Agricultural Development. (2019) Mainstreaming Gender-transformative Approaches at IFAD – Action Plan 2019-2025.