‘The injustices we face are stark. But by tackling climate and gender justice together, we can build a better world for us all.’
On Monday 20 November 2023, at Christian Aid’s Annual Lecture, we were joined by the Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.
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Ms. Mohammed shared how these two great injustices, the impacts of climate change and women’s inequality, go hand in hand.
‘Friends, these two wrongs magnify one another. While the climate crisis affects everyone, it does not affect everyone equally. Climate chaos can make women and girls poorer, more unequal and less safe.’
Ms. Mohammed went on to share even more insight into the entangled impacts of both global issues, including:
Women are 14 times more susceptible to death or injury during climate-related natural disasters compared to men.
As 2023 is set to become the warmest on record, the 2023 UN Women/DESA Gender Snapshot warns us that hundreds of millions more women and girls are at risk of poverty and food insecurity.
Researchers have found that child marriage is more common when water is scarce – as lower crop yields and higher food prices put families under pressure as they fall into abject poverty.
A quarter of women around the world work in agriculture, exposing them to the impacts of extreme weather events and shifting conditions and, therefore, the loss of their livelihoods.
On average, women and girls do three times as much unpaid care work as men and boys globally.
Ms. Mohammed, however, also reinforced that this does not reduce women to victims.
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‘First and foremost, we need to get a grip on the climate crisis.’
‘...and to right some of the injustices inherent within it. Big emitters like the UK need to lead, including at the next UN climate conference, which starts in just a few weeks. We need all countries to put into practice the Acceleration Agenda proposed by the UN Secretary-General.’
The Acceleration Agenda is an evidence-based initiative, shaped around what experts and the scientists tell us the world must do to avoid the very worst of climate change. This worst scenario would be allowing the rise in global temperature to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Acceleration Agenda calls on governments to:
Commit to no new coal
End licensing or funding of new oil and gas
Stop the expansion of existing oil and gas reserves
Shift subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables and a just energy transition.
In Ms. Mohammed’s words: ‘It calls on governments to accelerate their net zero timelines so that they get there as soon as possible to 2040 in developed countries and 2050 in emerging economies. It urges them to deal with the root cause of this crisis: fossil fuels.’
‘Women are powerful agents of change.’
Secondly, Ms. Mohammed calls for women to be included in not only discussions of climate change, but in other change-making and leadership roles.
‘Research shows that women’s participation in climate action and leadership leads to better results – better conservation outcomes and greater preparedness for disasters…Yet, only 55 of the world’s national climate action plans include gender-specific adaptation measures, and only 23 recognise the vital role of women as change agents in the fight against climate change.’
When discussing the role of women in fighting climate change, Ms. Mohammed says that women are imperative to evoking true, consistent change. She shared that ‘Increasing women’s representation in national parliaments is shown to lead to more stringent climate change policies.’
‘We must focus on women as we tackle the climate crisis. Climate action can reinforce gender injustice or it can address it. It can overlook women and girls orr it can consider their needs, ensure they benefit equally, and bring them into the heart of decision-making.’
About the Christian Aid Annual Lecture
The Christian Aid Annual Lecture convenes an audience of over 300 Parliamentarians, policy makers, leading London-based names from the development sector, faith leaders, trusts and foundations, government officials, HNWIs and the media.
Our goal is to bring minds together to hear thought provoking speakers and to foster conversations that matter.
This event furthers Christian Aid's wider aim to eradicate poverty by amplifying voices and creating lasting change.
Previous speakers include the shadow UK Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, who spoke about ‘international cooperation in an age of authoritarians’ at our 2022 event. In 2021, Sir Partha Dasgupta spoke on the theme of biodiversity and poverty.
This year the Christian Aid Annual Lecture was part of the St Martin-in-the-Fields iconic Autumn Series. This series brought together a diverse range of well-known speakers to share their perspectives on the theme of taking a stand, inspired by the words of Martin Luther: ‘Here I Stand, I Can Do No Other’.