Gender Concerns Take Centre-stage at India Pavilion Amidst Global Climate Talks in Paris

By Aditi Kapoor

The need to incorporate gender concerns and women’s rights in climate change was discussed at a side-event organized by Alternative Futures and TERRE Policy Centre at the India Pavilion on Tuesday, 8th December, 2015, even as the climate negotiators in adjoining rooms gave scant importance to gender in their draft negotiating texts.

The 2-hour panel discussion on the sides of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) 21 climate summit in Paris was inaugurated by the India Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar who acknowledged the critical role that women play in agriculture and sustainable development. “Gender equality and women’s empowerment are important aspects of India’s path to sustainable development. We are hopeful for a just climate agreement here at Paris, which will help make women less vulnerable to climate change,” he said.

Mr Javadekar also released a photo-documentation ‘Women in the Frame’ produced by Alternative Futures. The book is a unique collection of photographs showing women’s vast and varied relationship with India’s environmental resources – land, water, forests and biodiversity – and how this relationship is being affected by climate change.  Climate solutions where women can participate and benefit from are also included. The full book is available on

Ms Safak Muderrisgil, Vice President, Energy Efficiency Association, Turkey shared how women in her country are being successfully sensitized to save energy by correct usage of electrical goods. Ms Karuna Singh, Country Director, Earth Day Network, shared her work on raising awareness on climate change among Panchayat women leaders.

A 10-minute multi-media presentation by Ms Aditi Kapoor, Director, Alternative Futures, showed how women did more tasks with natural resources and put in more time and labour even in adaptive agriculture but had few resources and opportunities for decision-making. The presentation also showed how the Central and State governments were beginning to respond by incorporating some gender issues into their State Action Plans of Climate Change.

Mr Lokendra Thakkar, General Manager and Coordinate, Madhya Pradesh Climate Change Knowledge Centre, said the State government is highly sensitive to women’s empowerment and was the first to have initiated economic incentives for saving the girl child. “Taking a cue from this, we have made strategic provisions in our State climate plan to include participation of women in adaptation planning and decision- making,” he said.

Dr Shiraz Wajih, President, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, said district-level planning for disaster risk reduction is useful when the focus is on people’s participation and gender-based vulnerabilities. He emphasized women’s felt needs for owning the land they tilled in his home district – Gorakhpur – and elsewhere in India.

Mr Sheikh Ali, Asia Director with the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) appreciated the Indian government’s pro-activeness in including gender concerns in the climate plans.

About the Author:

The author is the Director (Policy and Partnerships) with Alternative Futures. She is a Policy researcher, communicator, trainer and evaluator. She has over two decades of experience in evidence-based policy research and analysis, developing and managing programmes,monitoring & evaluating and building capacities on climate change, disaster risk reduction and livelihoods of rural and urban poor with a strong gender and inclusion focus.