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Isabella Lövin på UN Women sidoevent om gender och klimat vid COP21

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Tal av biståndsminister Isabella Lövin på UN Women sidoevent om gender och klimat vid COP21, i Paris, 8 december 2015.

Det talade ordet gäller

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

For far too long the world has been blind to gender issues and the role of gender equality for sustainable development. This includes not least the dimensions of energy and climate issues.

How many of us haven't seen the pictures of starving polar bears and melting icebergs? Quite recently, people started realising that human beings would be affected too, especially those living in poverty.

Slowly there was also recognition that men and women are affected differently, both by the impacts of climate change and by the effects of energy poverty.

Today we have come to realise all this, but the world has yet to realise the full potential of women as key stakeholders to combat climate change and promote sustainable energy for all.

Experience shows that the resilience of households and communities depends greatly on the resilience of women. Women's and girls' traditional responsibilities as food growers, water and fuel gatherers, and caregivers connect them closely to available natural resources and the climate.

In parts of Africa, as much as 80% of the workforce in food production are women. If women had as much resources as men, food production would increase by more than 20%. Women are experts on food, water and energy systems and have the crucial knowledge needed for the transformation to sustainable development. This must not go to waste. But how can we ensure this?

"We wake up at 5 a.m. to pound our millet and to collect water. We have one single tap, which is far away.

After the pounding is over we do not even have time to sweep our compounds as we have to run to join the queue for water collection."

This is a snapshot of a normal day for a great number of women around the world. Imagine what a difference a solar-powered milling machine, water pump or lighting could make if this was your everyday life. Promoting green and renewable energy is not only a way to promote environmental sustainability – it is also an important part of the puzzle to promote gender equality. The time and effort spent by women and girls on routine tasks could be reduced significantly if adequate resources were in place to deliver green electricity, modern cooking and heating fuels, running water and sanitation, and basic transportation services. Today women in developing countries are working on average 13 hours more per week then men. Reducing women's household burdens can therefore have dramatic effects on women's levels of empowerment, education, literacy, nutrition, health, economic opportunities and involvement in social and political activities.

But promoting women in the local context is not enough. Estimates by the International Renewable Energy Agency shows that only around 20% of the workforce in the modern renewable energy sector are women, and examples of women energy entrepreneurs remain largely limited to small-scale initiatives. This must change in order to unleash the powerful role that women can play as agents of change in the transition to sustainable energy, and is also something I will promote through my role on the Advisory Board of Sustainable Energy for All.

We must also ensure that women are included and allowed to be active in planning, finance and policy-making processes. And in order to achieve this we must also work with the men. Yes, look around you here at COP21 – even though we have many good examples of excellent women in the negotiations, we can see the patriarchal structures reflected even here.

We must therefore highlight the benefits of having both men and women involved in the decisions being made. We must encourage the men in power to dare to share.

Lastly I would like to say that I am proud to represent a government that promotes gender issues through key organisations like UN Women and ENERGIA. But as a feminist government we know that we have to work with these issues wherever we are, and that is why mainstreaming gender considerations is a fundamental principle of our development cooperation – also in relations with the multilateral climate funds, such as the Global Environment Facility [GEF CEO Naoko Ishii is next speaker, TBC]. Step by step we have put in place gender policies and action plans. Step by step we are building a greener and more equal world, one reinforcing the other.

Thank you very much.