Gender Action Day: Gender Equality and Climate Justice

08 March 2024

The WMO Services Commission joined the international community in celebrating International Women’s Day with a dedicated event at SERCOM-3, Gender Action Day. 

The event was an opportunity for WMO Members and partners to collaborate and jointly advance women’s leadership in disaster and climate risk reduction. SERCOM members took decisions on the next steps to mainstream gender-responsive and inclusive multi-hazard early warning systems through the Early Warnings for All initiative, and weather, climate, hydrological, and marine services at large. The main theme of the day was "Promoting Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment and Leadership in climate issues and through the Early Warnings for All initiative”.

The day started with the opening remarks of Professor Dwikorita Karnawati, Head of Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) and of the WMO Secretary General, Professor Celeste Saulo, who stressed: 

The climate crisis is far from “gender neutral”. Women and men are affected differently by weather and climate-related hazards and therefore need gender-sensitive information and services. 

The WMO Secretary-General emphasized how women play a pivotal role in weather and climate-related sectors, are very effective at mobilizing communities during disasters, and are at the frontline of recovery. However, they often face systemic barriers to full participation and leadership: by breaking down barriers, we unlock their immense potential to build resilient societies. Both Professor Dwikorita Karnawati and Professor Celeste Saulo reiterated the need to streamline gender balance and activities in BMKG and WMO programs. 

Afterward, insights from inspirational woman figures involved in the Early Warning for All initiative in Indonesia were shared. Discussions focused on challenges encountered in the implementation of gender-responsive programming in the implementation of multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWS) and good practices. WMO emphasized the need for gender-sensitive policies to empower women and vulnerable communities in the face of a changing climate. To achieve this at the national level, WMO implements activities and initiatives that strengthen National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), partnering with donors and partners including USAID and CREWS to implement gender-responsive programs in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and other developing countries. 

Lucy Mtilatila, Permanent Representative of Malawi, shared Malawi's experience in the implementation of Gender Responsive MHEWS, highlighting some of the challenges encountered (e.g. knowledge and information gap, limited access to technology, perceptions and culture, data scarcity). She also shared some lessons learned and mitigation measures on gender mainstreaming, which should include practices such as inclusiveness from the early stages of programs’ development, enhancement of data collection, raising awareness, and empowering women in income-generating activities. During a roundtable discussion, representatives from Lao PR, Timor-Leste, and Samoa shared insights on projects implemented in their respective countries. The discussion touched on several aspects such as good practices and challenges in addressing gender in the provision of hydrometeorological services, emphasizing the importance of partnerships as a vital strategic alignment for potential opportunities and addressing challenges at the local level. 

Mr. Gerard Howe, Head of the Adaptation, Nature, and Resilience Department at the FCDO, and Chair of CREWS, reconfirmed CREWS’ ambition to achieve gender equality integrated in early warning systems. We all have a responsibility to achieve gender equality in all we do, all the time, Mr. Howe highlighted, and stressed CREWS' commitment to investing in women. Ms. Sezin Tokar (USAID) highlighted that USAID is promoting not only gender-responsive multi-hazard early warning systems but systems that are fully inclusive in terms of the vulnerabilities and needs of persons living with disabilities, ethnic minorities, of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) persons, and others. 

The last part of the day aimed at exploring the intersectionality between the SERCOM Gender Action Plan and the larger UN Gender Action Plan to Support the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai GAP) to advance gender equality and women's empowerment in the weather, water, and climate areas. Discussions started with a presentation from UN Women on the overview of the Sendai GAP, its developments, and the next steps. The Sendai GAP identifies 9 objectives that are interlinked into the gender priorities of SERCOM: increase the availability of disaggregated data and qualitative information on gender and disaster risk, the use of gender analysis to generate and apply disaster risk knowledge in decision-making and mainstream gender equality across laws, policies, strategies and institutions for disaster risk reduction, increase meaningful participation and empowerment of women and gender stakeholders in disaster risk governance. 

Central to this discussion was the SERCOM Gender Action Plan, presented by Ms. Allie Allen, NOAA, SERCOM Management Group Gender Focal Point. Ms. Allie Allen presented statistics on the participation of women and men in WMO structures and activities, which is one of the baselines for advancing WMO’s gender agenda. 

As SERCOM and WMO reaffirm their commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment, the momentum gained from Gender Action Day will drive sustained action towards integrating gender-responsive approaches into disaster and climate risk reduction strategies, ensuring a more resilient and inclusive future for all.

For daily highlights, visit the SERCOM-3 dedicated webpage.

Gender equality and climate justice.