The Institute for Environment and Water Management on Thursday organized a half day forum at Panafric Hotel to seek views and opinions from participants on how to mainstream gender concerns in climate change negotiations. Participants drawn from civil society, government and media agreed that women have been poorly represented in global negotiations to establish a binding climate treaty.

The roundtable forum heard that in the past, climate talks had limited space for women`s participation hence skewed outcomes that had minimal impact at the grassroots where action on climate change is more urgent.

Annabel Waititu, the Executive Director, Institute for Water and Environment, in her opening remarks stressed the need for greater inclusion of women at all levels of climate negotiations. ‘We must raise the visibility of female gender in climate negotiations. Grassroots women should be empowered to play a significant role in climate talks at national and international level. In any case, who bear the brunt when there is drought or floods?’ Waititu remarked.

She told participants that mainstreaming gender concerns in climate talks will determine their success. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has lately recognized the need to include women in climate negotiations after intense pressure from civil society organizations. Kenyan conservation lobbies have been conducting series of workshops countrywide to enlighten grassroots women on the UNFCCC processes. Participants at the roundtable agreed that awareness creation targeting grassroots women is critical to enable them understand climate negotiations at global level.

Waititu hailed some milestones that have been achieved in mainstreaming gender issues at climate talks. According to Waititu, women are now fairly represented in country`s delegations during conference of parties (COP) meetings. Likewise, the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies have expanded space for women participation in discussions that addresses technical issues related to climate change. Waititu revealed that a strong caucus of female environment ministers and green activists has successfully lobbied for gender mainstreaming in climate change negotiations.
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