Policymakers, gender specialists and representatives of conservation groups who attended the IEWM roundtable on Thursday were united in their call for gender balance in development of climate change policies. Concerned that the international climate regime had previously relegated women to the periphery, participants at the roundtable were unanimous that time was ripe to advance interests of women and marginalized groups in global climate talks.

Kenya is among progressive countries in Africa that have developed gender friendly policies and laws to empower women in all facets of human development.

The Deputy Director, Climate Change Secretariat in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Moses Omedi Jura, told the roundtable that the government is committed to implementation of affirmative action to ensure women play a significant role in Kenya`s green transition. Omedi cited the new constitution and a range of policy incentives that encourage women to actively participate in national development endeavors, including climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Kenya has ratified the UNFCCC fully and we support provisions that encourage greater participation of women in climate change negotiations. We believe women have a critical role to play in the implementation of programs that addresses climate change, Omedi told participants. He stressed that gender balance in climate negotiations goes beyond numbers but it as well include appreciating the contribution of women to the debates.

Omedi noted that grassroots women in Kenya are better placed to offer solutions to adverse impacts of climate change including food, water and energy insecurity, habitat loss and communicable diseases. It is the rural women who have direct interaction with nature. They fetch water, firewood and wild fruits to sustain their families. Likewise, women posses indigenous knowledge that can be harnessed to boost our mitigation and adaptation capacity to climate change, Omedi intoned African civil society has intensified efforts to raise the visibility of women in global climate negotiations.

The Program Manager, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Sam Ogallah, presented outcomes of a recent workshop in Addis Ababa where the civil society agreed to come up with an African gender position to be presented to African group of negotiators and COP 19 meeting in Warsaw in November. Ogallah was optimistic that adoption of the gender position paper by African environment ministers will inject fresh impetus in efforts to increase female participation in climate discussions.

Climate advocacy should integrate gender concerns and African governments should develop gender sensitive climate change policies to ensure women are major players in the design and implementation of programs that advances green agenda, Ogallah told participants.
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