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66th session of the commission on the status of women

Statement by the Director-General, Ms Jan Beagle

66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

General Discussion

17 March 2022
New York

Madam Chair,

Despite many hard-won gains towards gender equality, women and girls around the world still struggle to have their most basic rights protected. There is a persistent disparity between the promise of justice and realities on the ground - at home, at school, in communities and in the workplace.

Armed conflict and large-scale humanitarian crises are affecting more people than ever before, with women and girls often bearing the brunt of their impact.

And data shows that the pandemic has set back the effort to close the global gender gap by a generation.

As the only global intergovernmental organisation exclusively devoted to promoting the rule of law as an enabler of peace and sustainable development, IDLO believes that justice for women and girls is essential to empowering women, and closing the gender gap.

Our Strategic Plan 2021 – 2024 takes a two-track approach, putting gender equality at the centre of all our work, in addition to targeted interventions on justice challenges faced by women and girls in three key areas:

First, we work together with UN Women and national partners to eliminate discriminatory laws and practices, and support the development of gender-responsive legal, regulatory, and policy frameworks.

Second, we work to promote survivor-centric approaches to violence against women and girls by helping justice institutions prevent, and respond to, gender-based violence, and empower survivors to access justice and rebuild their lives.

And third, we support the equal and effective participation and leadership of women in the justice sector.

IDLO welcomes CSW’s focus this year on the nexus between gender and climate.

Climate change represents the single largest threat to peace and sustainable development.

And, as has so often been the case in history, it is women and girls who will have the most to lose.

Access to land and natural resources, which is central to the lives and livelihoods of many women, is increasingly disrupted.

Discriminatory laws and practices mean that women and girls are less able to protect themselves, even as they face higher rates of violence during climate-related crises and instability.

And gender inequality is making climate change worse.

Countries where women are excluded from decision-making have increased levels of environmental degradation, while having more women in government correlates positively with reduced carbon emissions.

Promoting a gender-responsive approach to climate action through the rule of law is, therefore, an increasingly important area of IDLO’s work. A multifaceted, intersectional feminist approach is essential to address structural inequalities and barriers to gender-transformative action.

Our policy brief on climate justice emphasises the importance of empowering women to claim their environmental rights, integrating gender into climate policies and actions, and ensuring equal participation in climate and environmental negotiations.

As a signatory of the Glasgow Women’s Leadership Statement on Gender Equality and Climate Change, published at COP26, I join the call for increased political will to bring women to the table and strengthen efforts to support initiatives by women and girls to address the climate crisis.

As a lead Commitment Maker, IDLO urges bold, tangible, and concrete action in support of Generation Equality’s Feminist Action for Climate Justice Coalition, including on increasing the proportion of women and girls in leadership positions throughout environmental governance, as well as on enhancing the capacity of women and girls in all their diversity to build resilience to climate change.

We are also putting these principles into action.

For example, in Burkina Faso and the Philippines, IDLO recently launched a programme to increase women’s understanding of their environmental rights, and to support the development of policies promoting equitable and sustainable development models.

And in Rwanda, we are supporting greater participation of women as land-use mediators as part of national legal reforms to promote sustainable land tenure.

In his remarks to the Generation Equality Forum, the Secretary-General noted that achieving equal rights for women is “the unfinished human rights struggle of this century.”

Victory in this struggle will require overcoming not only traditional barriers to equality, but also emerging challenges like climate change, which threatens to widen the gender gap even further.

Gender equality is a core climate issue, and climate justice must be a priority for all feminists.

At IDLO, we remain committed to working towards a future where women and girls can claim their environmental rights, participate actively in all climate decision-making, and contribute equally to achieving peace and sustainable development.