Statement by OECS Director General in celebration of International Women’s Day

Today the OECS Commission joins the rest of the World in observance of International Women’s Day, under the theme ‘Gender Equality for a Sustainable Tomorrow’. This theme is apt, as it seeks to recognize and celebrate the invaluable contribution of women around the globe, whose impact continues to inspire change and action in our quest for  sustainability and climate resilience.

The impact of climate change on our region continues to be severe, and sadly, women remain among the most vulnerable and most affected. While gender alone does not shape one’s vulnerabilities to climate change, it often interacts with other factors such as economic and social status, ethnicity, age, and disability.

These vulnerabilities are undeniable, yet women have positioned themselves as critical agents of change and have a key role to play in adapting our societies to climate change. Women are investing in climate-smart agriculture and sustainable energy solutions to increase climate resilience and improve their families’ livelihoods and well-being. As knowledgeable small-scale farmers and leaders of climate change adaptation and mitigation projects, both women and men make major contributions to combating climate change; and Women and men are seeking solutions and financing for adaptation and mitigation.

Climate change is a topical challenge that can be turned into an opportunity to address inequalities in our societies through a gender transformative approach.

We aspire to lead by example at the OECS Commission, through the promotion of the integration of gender equality into climate change adaptation, mitigation and response. This with a view to strengthening the resilience of the populations of the OECS Member States at large, thus contributing to the building a sustainable future for all.

More specifically, the OECS Commission and our partners are promoting a shift towards a greater gender-responsive approach to climate change. This involves the identification and acknowledgement of the existing differences between men and women, and articulating actions and policies that address the gaps that exist.

In 2020, the OECS Commission launched a Toolkit on ‘Building Resilience with Nature and Gender’. This Toolkit was developed under an AdaptAtion-funded project and is intended to support climate change practitioners and decision-makers in mainstreaming Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) and gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) considerations into climate change adaptation-related policies, plans, and on-the-ground activities. It provides detailed guidance on how the GESI aspects should be considered as part of the process of mainstreaming EbA and formulating concept notes for funding.

In line with this toolkit, the OECS Commission supports women’s increased participation in climate change governance, and this involves their meaningful participation in programmes and decision-making meant to address climate change and mitigate its impact on our societies.

At the OECS Commission, we understand and appreciate the need for a multi sectoral and multilateral approach to achieving these goals. We therefore continue to advocate for the development of relevant policies, plans and programmes to address existing gender deficits in political, economic, social and cultural life. We commit to enhancing the involvement, participation and benefit sharing of women in policy, plans and programmes. This is a priority for the OECS Commission, and has been actioned through the inclusion of Gender as a cross cutting theme in the Organisation’s new strategic plan, and the institution of the Commission’s Gender Policy. We further advocate for the adoption of the OECS Toolkit on Building Resilience with Nature and Gender by Governments, Organisations and other partners.

The OECS Commission remains committed to amplifying the voices of women across our region, as they continue to break barriers in this and every other space. Happy International Women’s Day to every phenomenal woman in the OECS, and around the world.

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