Over 400 female climate leaders unite to call out gender inequality ahead of COP26

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  • Ahead of next year’s UN Climate Change conference (AKA COP26), female climate leaders have banded together to ask: where are all the women?

    In a campaign launched today, more than 400 climate leaders – including entrepreneurs, MPs and celebrities – have called for greater accountability and transparency on gender equality (or glaring lack thereof) in the COP26 leadership team.

    In an open letter to the British Government, signed by Emma Thompson, Ellie Goulding and MC cover star Lily Cole, to name just a few, signatories are calling for stronger female representation in what is currently a COP26 leadership team dominated by men.

    The major climate conference is set to take place next November in Glasgow, and will be attended by heads of state, climate experts and campaigners from across the globe. In the week where Marie Claire honoured 11 incredible female Future Shapers, it’s clear that climate action still has an overwhelming gender problem. At present, women occupy less than 25% of the COP26 leadership team, who are responsible for setting its agenda.

    What the campaign is calling for ahead of COP26

    The campaign, organised by SHEChangesClimate, asks that the COP26 leadership team allows for women’s equal participation. It also provides evidence that including women in the conference’s decision and negotiating roles will ensure a more balanced decision-making process.

    The letter highlights that according to research by the Gender Action Plan – which the British Government signed up to at last year’s UN climate conference – women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change. They also have critical roles in the family and community when it comes to climate action. Therefore, their input is vital.

    ‘The COP26 Presidency is a test of the UK’s commitment to gender equality,’ Malini Mehra, GLOBE International CEO, says of the gender disparity. ‘Women are half the population and must be half the top table.

    ‘This is well understood by the public and expected by the global climate community. Right now the UK is failing the political leadership test and sending the wrong signal. The government must act now to ensure equal representation in COP26 decision-making.’

    Dr Mya-Rose Craig (aka Birdgirl) added: ‘We will not succeed in tackling the climate crisis without women’s inclusion. We can and must have a gender-balanced team to be effective and successful.’

    Other signatories of the campaign include Caroline Lucas MP, Google Sustainability Officer Kate Brandt, activist Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah and Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams.

    Members of the public can also get involved in supporting the campaign, by using #SHEChangesClimate on social media. The campaign comes ahead of The Climate Action Summit on 12 December, which will mark the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

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