[COP24] Blog: Vulnerable Women pay the price for delay

Women often bear the brunt of climate change-induced impacts. Photo: Havard Bjelland/Norwegian Church Aid


As I set out on my journey to Katowice, Poland, I reflected on Gender Day at the climate change negotiations.  The images of numerous women, children and farmers facing life threatening catastrophes, chilling climate experiences, adverse climatic conditions and acute shortage of food and water due to climate change are in my mind and in my heart.

As a grass root worker and a feminist activist, I am a close witness to their everyday struggle for survival & livelihood, quality & dignity of life. This makes me ponder several questions as part of my preparation to join the second week of deliberations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – COP24. The top most question on my mind is: how many more years will we take and how many more lives will we lose before we save our planet from permanent damage. Year after year, at COP, and between COPs, representatives of governments meet to discuss and negotiate.  And more people are impacted.

On one side, we see the vulnerable bearing the brunt of the impacts of climate change.  And a large number of the most vulnerable are women. On the other side, the negotiations progress at their own slow pace. Vulnerable women do not have the luxury of time, money and energy to wait endlessly each year hoping that world leaders will bring in change. Though highly valuable in a democratic society, processes and dialogues can feel too slow in the wake of the urgency of issues like climate change.  I could feel like most of you, the agreements should have been completed yesterday to stop today’s catastrophe. 

Is rewriting the agreement and rulebook what we should be doing, instead of urgently pushing our nation states to complete the commitment and reach the targets that we need them to reach?  This year the COP24’s high priority agenda is to finalise the Paris Agreement’s Rulebook for to enable the world to reach the climate change targets agreed to in Paris in time. Scientists, activists and those at the peak of vulnerability are shouting loudly to please hear us: 1.5 degree Celsius should be achieved at any cost if we want to save the planet.

Too often, vulnerable women are the ones who pay the price for any delay.   

A key part of implementing the Paris agreement is to engage women leadership at all levels, from the grass roots to the international. Women must be part of all aspects of negotiations and implementation of the Agreement. 

Have all parties have made space for women negotiators? Women are needed to be engaged for quick and lasting solutions. Let’s give women a chance and ensure reforms in the climate change negotiations and a chance for humanity.


 Dr. Joycia Thorat is the Co-Chair of Advisory Group on Advocacy of ACT Alliance. She is the project and policy officer of Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), India.