Gender Day in COP21- The Emotional Anchor

The Gender Day on 8 Dec 2015 in COP21 is finally here! I am just another ordinary female youth from a developing country who is aware of the different type of gender treatment and unfairness in this society and this needs to be fixed.

Climate change impacts affect both gender differently. Women in developing countries, especially the poor ones are particularly vulnerable. In least developed areas, woman’s right are neglected due to traditional community culture of women being the house carer and the lack of accessibility to financial resources, education and social services supports. These are the basics of what I know about gender in climate change.

I was hoping to learn more about gender issues in climate change. I have attended a side event organised by the Women and Gender Constituency in UNFCCC called the “Gender Just Climate Solutions”. In the session, awards were given out to outstanding community-lead initiatives on climate mitigation or adaptation that take into account gender equality and sustainable development. Details of the 30 projects range from technical to non-technical as well as transformational solutions can be read from here. There was this stunning thank you speech by one of the winner from Papua New Guinea under the Transformational solutions category that struck me. It was a very emotional speech.


The most powerful speech I came across by a direct victim of climate change, Ursula Rakova from Papua New Guinea

Her name is Ursula Rakova (read her stories!!), from a  non-governmental organization named Tulele Peisa, which means “Sailing in the wind on our own” in the local language. Her community is in danger where her hometown- Carteret Atoll, a small island will be submerged completely between 2020 and 2040 based on scientific predictions.

In her speech, Ursula kept on emphasizing that Carteret Island is going down FAST. Climate change is violating their life where food security is affected; no education access to the children because the schools are closed; but they refused to leave their home still; because that is the place where they belong. I couldn’t help thinking of how relocating a community will lead to the many feeling lost- both emotionally, as well as losing their cultural attachment.

I can feel her feeling of frustration and courage she took to give the speech- especially the moment when she said she is just an ordinary woman from a small island and that her community might not be able to come over to deliver this in their lifetime (they have no ability to do that).

That was my first time hearing to such powerful speech by a direct victim of climate change, and I almost teared. I really think the negotiators should hear the first hand voices by direct victims. In fact, I feel that they are the one who deserved to deliver the interventions in the plenary than anyone else! I appreciate and value the message and voices of these direct victims, but at the same time, I feel that the government could have do more in these situations; but of course with proper mechanism that ensure effective resources distribution and capacity building.

Written by: Emily Oi

Read Part 2 of my Gender Day experience!



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