Where are the women from the COP26 climate conference?

Where are the women from the COP26 climate conference?
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The SHE Changes Climate activist campaign calls for 50:50 gender balance in all climate decision making, highlighting that only 16% of the COP26 UK Leadership team are women.
Bronagh Loughlin

Bronagh Loughlin Author

Journalist and columnist

The SHE Changes Climate activist campaign revealed that only 16% of the COP26 Climate Conference Leadership team are women and calls for change to have at least a 50% representation of diverse women at their top levels, now and in the future.

The movement aims to bring inclusiveness and diversity to the COP26 negotiations and all future discussions on climate change.

To achieve that, they have launched the #5050Vision campaign, calling for all parties to be represented in decision-making because it affects all parties.

We caught up with Co-Founder and Co-Conspirator Antoinette Vermilye to learn more about their plans to achieve their 50:50 vision.

Antoinette shares more about the SHE Changes Climate movement: “It is a campaign that firstly targets the UK as the host country of this year’s COP to bring an equal representation of women to its leadership team.

This time a year ago, there were zero women on it. Less than 50 days before COP26, we only had three women comprising 25% of the top-level team.

Antoinette Vermilye, Co-Founder and Co-Conspirator of the She Changes Climate campaign

We are demanding more diversity and inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability to the COP26 negotiations.”

Organisers are inviting people to join the campaign online by using a digital toolkit and supporting the cause through a GoFundMe page.

On 9th November they will held a SHE Changes Climate Day, presenting  live panels and interviews at The Pipe Factory, in the art district of Glasgow.

Antoinette explains why it is crucial to address the lack of representation in this and any future COP and propose solutions:

“Generally, male-dominated perspectives lean towards decisions made through a narrow lens that tends to be more economical and technological biased rather than leveraging the wisdom of indigenous peoples and nature-based solutions.

We are actively excluding the perspectives of the majority of stakeholders, such as gender, youth, diversity groups.

Doesn't it make sense to have all parties bringing their own experience, expertise, and perspectives to the ingredients of a solution?”

According to the 2021 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, it will take 145.5 years to attain gender parity in politics globally if don't take action.

Antoinette explains further: “Women are on the frontline of climate change, often portrayed as victims, usually due to socio-economic conditions that are defined by a patriarchal society. Despite bearing the brunt of climate change consequences, women display remarkable resilience and resourcefulness.

But women are not being given a chance to speak or demonstrate their perspectives. They are systematically underrepresented at all levels of decision making."

It has been estimated that advancing gender equality could add $12 trillion to the global economy.

Women disproportionately suffer the impacts of disasters, severe weather events, and climate change because of cultural norms and the inequitable distribution of roles, resources, and power, especially in developing countries.

A UNDP report showed that “80% of people displaced by climate crises are women".

Founders of SHE Changes Climate believe that for all life to survive on this planet, we need a balanced representation of all humankind; making crucial decisions about our future, the future of our children and the future of every living thing on this planet.

They are committed to ensuring women - across a broad spectrum of ethnicity, class, disability, age, etc - are in these roles to make the crucial decisions to save humanity.

SHE Changes Climate was founded in late 2020 by Antoinette Vermilye, Bianca Pitt and Elise Buckle, with the aim to bring diversity and inclusiveness, transparency and accountability to the COP negotiations on Climate Change.

They started out in December 2020, by sending an open letter to the UK Government, calling on them for greater accountability and transparency on male/female parity on the UK COP26 leadership team.

The letter has been supported by over 450 male and female environmental leaders and gained significant visibility for the topic.

Read a full interview with Antoinette Vermilye from SHE Changes Climate in the Winter 2021/22 edition of the Profit with Purpose Magazine >>


Bronagh Loughlin

Bronagh Loughlin Author

Journalist and columnist