TAKE ACTION: Join Feminist Leaders in Advancing Climate Justice

One of former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson’s stories that has stayed with me over the years is how women leaders at the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference got together in the middle of the night to strategize support for the inclusion of a provision about gender equity as a key component of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Their last-minute efforts paid off—and Decision 23 was adopted. It’s now known as the “Doha Miracle.” Decision 23 is a pledge to promote gender balance and improve the participation of women at the negotiating table in future climate change conferences.

As Robinson has noted in her book, Climate Justice, and in her tireless advocacy as president of the Mary Robinson Foundation, women account for 50 percent of the world’s population, but we do not have half of the decision-making power in any field—including in the design, planning and implementation of climate policy and action.

Robinson believes the way forward towards solutions to the climate crisis is through the new and more actively engaged leadership of women—and at the Connected Women Leaders (CWL) Forum that Ronda Carnegie and I co-convened in Bellagio, Italy in April, she challenged the 30 global women  leaders present to make a commitment to put climate justice at the center of their work, whatever their primary focus might be, and become a Connected Leader for Climate Justice.

Every woman in attendance said “yes.” Together, we co-wrote our own declaration, inviting other women and girls to join us. 

CWL Declaration on Climate Change announcement with (l-r) environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim; CWL Forum co-convener Pat Mitchell; Mary Robinson, president of the Mary Robinson Foundation and former president of Ireland; climate activist Sarra Tekola; Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, Project Drawdown; CWL Forum co-convener Ronda Carnegie; NRDC Publications Director Mary Annaïse Heglar; and Doc Society Director Jess Search at the Doc Society Climate Story Lab.

The CWL’s Declaration on Climate Change states that “the climate movement cannot succeed without an urgent upsurge in women’s leadership across the Global South and the Global North,” and asserts that “now is the moment to recognize the wisdom and leadership of women and girls.”

We actively and decisively pledged at the Forum to support women and girls around the world in claiming leadership within the climate movement; unify their efforts to create equity in health, education, economy, politics, peace and security within it; and raise the climate crisis and solutions for consideration in all institutional settings possible.

This week, we also officially launched the CWL Declaration on Climate Justice at the Doc Society’s Climate Story Lab. Along with Dr. Katharine Wilkinson and Robinson, Jess Search and her team led the effort in further shaping the Declaration, bringing in others with our new #WomenLeadClimate initiative.

To change everything, we need everyone. As Robinson often says: “Climate change is a manmade problem that requires a feminist solution.” In the Declaration, we echo the sentiment: “All women and girls have a place in this work,” we declare. “Human rights and climate are inseparable. The climate crisis is everyone’s issue.”

One Earth. One chance. Let’s seize it.

The mission of CWL is to activate the power of women, working together through connected leadership, to find better solutions to global challenges. CWL is building a transformative global agenda centered on climate justice and its link to gender equity—recognizing that education, human security, economic opportunity and the health and well-being of women and girls are critically interconnected. The launch is the start of what we hope will galvanize women leaders from across all sectors of society to prioritize climate justice in a new way.

Wilkinson, author of The New York Times bestseller Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming and vice president at Project Drawdown, a nonprofit lifting up climate solutions, wrote a powerful op-ed in Time magazine on why we should all be championing women leading on climate change.

“This groundswell of leadership gives me courage,” she wrote. “To my mind, this is where possibility lives—possibility that we can turn away from the brink and move towards a life-giving future for all.”

Read the full declaration at WomenLeadClimate.org. Join us by adding your signature here. And if you’re on social media, please help spread the word by posting your support with #womenleadclimate. On Instagram and Twitter, follow the conversation at @weleadclimate.

This piece originally appeared on Pat Mitchell’s blog. Republished with author permission.


Pat Mitchell is the editorial director of TEDWomen. Throughout her career as a journalist, Emmy-winning producer and pioneering executive, she has focused on sharing women’s stories. She is chair of the Sundance Institute Board, the chair emerita of the Women’s Media Center board, and a trustee of the VDAY movement, the Skoll Foundation and The Woodruff Arts Center. She is an advisor to Participant Media and served as a congressional appointment to the American Museum of Women’s History Advisory Council.