27 Nov, 2012 |
Women take centre stage on first-ever Gender Day
Conference hears from women on their role in tackling climate change and poverty

Women were the focus at the UN Climate Change Conference with the first-ever Gender Day of the yearly event at COP18/CMP8 today.

It was also a day when the Chairman of the Organising Sub-Committee for COP18/CMP8 held the first of what will be a daily press briefing at the conference.

At the final panel discussion of the UNFCCC’s first Gender Day, H.E. Sheikha Mayassa, who established the NGO Reach Out To Asia, told the audience that “every journey begins with one step in the right direction”.

The theme of the event was Moving Beyond The Rhetoric and the panel, which was chaired by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christina Figueres. It discussed ways in which gender equality could be put into practice.

During the event, members of the panel spoke about why women are often the people most affected by climate change, because of the role they play in the home and as care givers. They also talked about why women are so vital in the fight against climate change and the importance of gender equality.

Ms Figueres also put a range of questions to them, including how we move plans into actions, how women can be encouraged to become leaders and how women can be empowered to use their innate leadership and management skills.

Speaking at the beginning of the event Ms Figueres said: “This is the last event in what has been a wonderful Gender Day.”

The star of Solar Mamas spoke about the challenges she and her friend faced while making the documentary film. It follows Rafea Anadi and her friend, the older, quieter Umm Badr, as they journey to India to be trained in solar engineering and return to their remote village to implement what they have learned.

The women were selected to be trainees at the Barefoot College, a programme created by the Indian activist Bunker Roy, where illiterate and semi-literate grandmothers from rural villages around the world are trained to become solar engineers. With many of the women unable to speak the same language as their instructors, knowledge during the six-month course is transferred using sign language, repetition, and visual aids.

Ms  Anadi spoke of her determination to go through with the project. “I always wanted to do it . . .you tell me ‘no’ and I want to do it ten times more,” she said.

Mona Eldaief, the director of Solar Mamas, said that she wanted the film to demonstrate how much can be accomplished by putting the responsibility for alleviating poverty into the hands of women.

Meanwhile, Fahad Bin Mohammed Al-Attiya, the Chairman of the Organising Sub-Committee for COP18/CMP8, held the first of what will be a daily press briefing at the Qatar National Convention Centre, venue of the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Mr Al-Attiya spoke about some of the issues facing Qatar that led to the country hosting the climate change conference.

“We are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” he said, noting that careful environmental development is one of the four pillars in Qatar’s ambitious plans set out in the National Vision 2030.

At Tuesday’s press briefing, Mr. Al-Attiya offered useful facts and figures, including how 7,000 members of observer organisations have registered to participate in COP18/CMP8 Doha, and more than 30 regional civil society groups are participating. About 12,000 people are in Doha for the conference and more are expected to join when the high-level segment begins next week.

Mr. Al-Attiya responded to questions about media registration, transportation and food services within the QNCC, providing useful information and assuring the individuals who posed the questions that their concerns would be addressed by his team.

The benefits of using traditional techniques to tackle problems of climate change were discussed at COP18/CMP8’s second Hikma session.

It was organised by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and its theme was, “the value of traditional knowledge for adaptation in Arab countries”.

During the event the panel members spoke about a variety of traditional techniques which could be used for tasks ranging from collecting fresh rain water to catching fish.