Arab States agree on common position ahead of global meeting on gender equality and climate change


Virtual Arab Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Virtual Arab Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Photo: UN Women

Between 30 and 31 January 2022, Member States of the League of Arab States (LAS) endorsed the Arab Declaration issued by the Arab Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) on Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.

Hosted by the Republic of Sudan and the League of Arab States with support from UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States, the preparatory meeting was opened by UN Women Executive Director, Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, who said that “addressing the climate emergency effectively will require to join forces, on a level playing field, where women and men alike can unleash their full potential, not only education, but importantly in work opportunities, particularly in the green economy.”

Ms. Sima Sami Bahous, UN Women Executive Director. Photo: UN Women.
Ms. Sima Sami Bahous, UN Women Executive Director. Photo: UN Women.

A bold and comprehensive commitment, the Declaration adopted by 17 Arab Member States commits to combat the devastating impact of climate change results on women and girls in the region; and proposes forward-thinking measures to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through climate action.

Highlights include, inter alia, the Declaration’s first recommendation (1a) to Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment (and resilience) in the context of climate change response through strengthened regional cooperation including a partnership with UN Women to adopt a joint regional women’s economic initiative.

The UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States is already amplifying its efforts towards this initiative, in close collaboration with LAS and Member states. A multi-country programme on women’s economic empowerment in the green economy is expected to commence by end of 2022. UN Women Regional Director for the Arab States, Susanne Mikhail Eldhagen, stressed the important linkages between climate change and women’s economic empowerment and highlighted that “the surplus of solar energy and the wealth of women educated in STEM in the region is an example of the formidable potential for women employment in the green economy. Benefiting not only women, but societies and nations at large and providing an important part of the solution to the dangerous trends in climate change and increasing temperatures, experienced in the Arab States region”.

The Arab Declaration calls on the UN system to put forward a resolution to protect women, including the most vulnerable, during disasters and crises.

Furthermore, the Arab States position commits to bringing women to the heart of climate actions at all levels of decision making, policy formulation, and legislative reform particularly in the green and blue economies.

Member States will work to establish a framework to operationalise climate commitments effectively in the COVID-19 context by ensuring that gender-responsive climate actions are incorporated into UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325) National Action Plans and other key national frameworks and, significantly, to develop and strengthen related programmes, policies and funds to support national, regional and global climate solutions from a gender-responsive perspective.

The Arab Declaration also recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact in exacerbating the incidence of violence against women. Member States committed to use the Arab Strategy and Action Plan for the Prevention and Response to All Forms of Violence in Asylum Context, especially Sexual Violence against Women and Girls, when developing national action plans and policies.

 A total of 41 representatives participated in both sessions, representing a variety of ministries including: environment, foreign affairs, social development, health, legal and national women’s machineries.  Representatives from the United Nations also attended.

The Arab Declaration will be presented by the Sudan Delegation to the United Nations, at the CSW66 session to be held from 14 to 25 March in New York.