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Feminist Foreign Policy & Climate Change – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Feminist Foreign Policy & Climate Change

Session Report
Nikita Saha

Organized by the Centre for International Relations and Strategic Studies in collaboration with the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, the Diplomacy and Foreign Policy Autumn’23 program is a comprehensive one-month online certificate training course and internship program. The program features an immersive curriculum and delves into critical contemporary issues impacting the international landscape. The seventh day of the program focuses on the timely and interlinked themes of “National Security, Climate Change, and Feminist Foreign Policy.” 

This session promises a rich and nuanced exploration of these interconnected topics, bringing together expert insights from distinguished panellists.

Professor Vibhuti Patel, a distinguished visiting professor at IMPRI and former professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, whose expertise in feminist theory and international relations will contribute crucial insights on the role of feminist principles in foreign policy.

Intersection of feminist foreign policy and climate change

Climate change, a crisis of immense proportions, casts its shadow across the globe, impacting every corner of our planet and its inhabitants. However, its effects are not borne equally. Women, particularly those deeply connected to nature and engaged in the subsistence sector, face the brunt of this environmental upheaval. This presentation embarks on a journey to explore the crucial intersection of feminist foreign policy and climate change, advocating for a holistic approach that prioritizes gender justice and environmental sustainability.

Imagine the monstrous roar of an approaching tsunami, the Earth trembling beneath your feet. Such events, testaments to the wrath of a changing climate, demand immediate and effective responses. Yet, nations react in a kaleidoscope of ways, from top-down policy pronouncements to lockdowns and transportation halts. The presentation, however, sheds light on a critical aspect often overlooked: the need for a gender-sensitive approach to these responses.

Women, often the pillars of their communities, play a vital role in pre-disaster preparedness, early warning systems, and post-disaster rehabilitation. Recognizing their unique vulnerabilities and strengths is crucial to crafting effective responses. This might involve ensuring access to information and resources tailored to women’s needs, including culturally appropriate communication channels and safe spaces for women and girls.

The aftermath of a climate disaster can be as devastating as the event itself. Homes lie in ruins, livelihoods are shattered, and communities grapple with the trauma of loss and displacement. Amidst this wreckage, the presentation highlights the urgent need for rehabilitation efforts, particularly for those with special needs.

Women, children, and older people often constitute the most vulnerable segments of a disaster-stricken population. They may lack access to healthcare, face heightened risks of gender-based violence, and struggle to navigate the complexities of rebuilding their lives. The presentation emphasizes the critical role of civil society organizations, corporations, and the state in addressing these issues. Investing in community-based rehabilitation programs, prioritizing access to healthcare and education, and ensuring social safety nets are essential to rebuilding lives and fostering resilience.

We must delve more deeply to combat climate change than just mitigating its immediate effects. We must understand its very source. The presentation delves into the complex scientific debate surrounding the causes of climate change, exploring the interplay between natural factors and human interventions.

From theories of the Earth’s evolution and ice ages to the undeniable impact of human development and industrial practices, the discussion sheds light on the historical context shaping our present predicament. Recognizing the human hand in this unfolding crisis is crucial for crafting effective solutions and holding accountable those whose actions have exacerbated the problem.

The fight for environmental justice is not new. Throughout history, women have stood at the forefront of movements challenging environmental degradation and advocating for sustainable practices. The presentation celebrates the trailblazing spirit of historical feminist movements that have paved the way for contemporary climate action.

From the courageous women who protested nuclear testing in the Pacific to the grassroots campaigns against mercury pollution in Japan, the presentation chronicles a powerful narrative of resistance. It highlights the efforts of women who opposed dumping contaminated products from developed to developing countries, showcasing their unwavering commitment to protecting both people and the planet.

The connection between feminist foreign policy and climate justice is not merely conceptual but a matter of lived experience. The presentation underscores the role of international organizations like the United Nations in recognizing the need to integrate gender considerations into climate change discussions. Reports such as “Gender and Climate Change” have played a pivotal role in reshaping global perspectives on climate justice, ensuring that women’s voices and needs are no longer silenced.

Furthermore, the presentation highlights the invaluable contributions of women-led organizations like the Asian Women’s Research and Action Network and the Women Environment and Development Organization. These groups have been instrumental in advocating for climate justice, influencing diplomatic efforts, and raising awareness about the disproportionate impact of environmental issues on women.

As we stand at the precipice of a climate-altered future, the presentation leaves us with a powerful message: the need for a feminist foreign policy framework to address the multifaceted challenges of climate change. It emphasizes the importance of gender-sensitive responses, comprehensive rehabilitation efforts, and a thorough understanding of the root causes of environmental degradation. By examining historical feminist movements and contemporary advocacy, the presentation encourages a holistic approach to climate justice that recognizes the intricate intertwining of gender, poverty, and environmental sustainability. Only then can we build a future where all, regardless of gender or background, can thrive on a healthy and equitable planet.

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IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.

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