When COP26 [The UN Climate Change Conference 2021] convenes this Autumn, there will be a clear lack of representation of women in the leadership present.
Only 22 of total global leaders are women, no women are in the top of the UK COP26 leadership team and only 20% of delegations at COP in 2019 were led by women, despite decades of calls and the creation of ‘gender action plans’. With the notable exceptions of a few countries such as Rwanda and United Arab Emirates, there is very little evidence that women will be well represented in most COP26 delegations.
Does this matter?
Well the evidence strongly shouts out a definitive – yes!
When the world needs the creativity and talents from all, we continue to seek solutions from just 50%.
The systemic failure to hear women’s voices and allow their equal representation matters, matters as when women are equally present as decision makers, the planet, its peoples, and places get better outcomes. In a nutshell;
- Women have a positive effect on climate when on boards.
- Peace talks are more likely to succeed with women leading.
- Greater political representation of women leads to more stringent climate change policies and fewer emissions.
- Women are more likely to ratify international environmental treaties.
- Women are perceived as more trustworthy, more empathic and collaborative – all of which the world needs now more than ever.
To quote Antoinette Vermilye, co-founder of She Changes Climate, the campaign trying to bring diversity and inclusiveness, transparency and accountability to the COP negotiations on Climate Change, “As Einstein famously said, the mindset that created the problem is not the one to fix it”.
Without women’s perspectives, the outputs from COP26 will be created by the very same mindset that created the problems in the first place.
The blind spots that occur when only the masculine viewpoints are considered is comprehensively explored in ‘Invisible Women: Exposing the data bias in a world deigned for men’, by Caroline Criado Perez. We should all be deeply concerned that going into COP26 it is highly likely that the other 50% of humanity will not be effectively represented in the decision-making taking place where ‘all forthcoming generations will be impacted by what is decided at the table” (COP26 Leadership Team).
We need to hear women’s voices to bring about systemic change
Women in Sustainability thrives on creating a psychological safe space to enable women speak their fullest truth and we want to harness these voices to bring about systemic change.
Since our inception in 2014 when we ran our very first ‘Women in Sustainability’ event in Bristol, we have been supporting and enabling women to lead and be a force for good in their respective areas of expertise and business. Since the pandemic hit last year, we have helped nearly 3000 women stay connected, combating WFH isolation and overwhelm.
We are running the ‘Amplifying Women’s Voices’ survey now, ahead of COP26, as we want to capture the voices of women working right across all three pillars of sustainability (economic, social, and environmental), sharing, and amplifying their thoughts, experiences and insights at such a critical time.
The results of the study will be shared in a report to be widely disseminated and discussed at an online or hybrid event convened by the Women in Sustainability Network and partners in early Autumn. Look out for details coming soon.
- Tell us what you think the blockers are to women being able to bring their best, feminine self to key decisions and discussions around such vital issues as the climate, ecological, pollution and waste emergencies.
- What are the challenges you are facing? How are you supported to lead?
- Tell us how and where the Women in Sustainability Network can support you more.
Be one of #1000Voices!
Can You Help Spread the Word?
We can only reach 1000 women with your help.
Can you encourage 5 of your female peers and colleagues to do the survey as well?
Share this article and/ or the survey link here and make this the biggest collective articulation of our voices yet!
The survey is part of a project being conducted by Women in Sustainability Network in partnership with Newcastle University, with funding from the Newcastle University Engagement and Place Fund.
The survey will take approx. 15-20 mins to complete, and you can put yourself in with a chance to win one of THREE £50 gift vouchers from the online ethical, sustainable marketplace My Green Pod. (These will be randomly assigned to three lucky respondents when the survey closes in early September.)