Nordic nations commit to a green and gender-equal region


Nordic nations have endorsed a commitment to advance “A Green and Gender-Equal Nordic Region”[1] by 2030, adding to a growing international movement calling for feminist action for climate justice.

In March 2022, the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality and LGBTI held a ministerial panel during the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), highlighting the need for a deeper understanding of the interconnections between gender and climate change.

The climate crisis disproportionately impacts women and girls because it amplifies existing gender inequalities and puts women’s health, safety, and livelihoods at risk. During and after climate disasters, women and girls’ exposure to gender-based violence increases[2] and girls are less likely than boys to continue their education following climate disasters.[3] Despite these challenges, there is international consensus that including women and girls in climate leadership is critical to effective and equitable climate solutions.

Gender equality and climate action are two distinct priorities of the Nordic nations. However, a recent Nordic Council of Ministers’ report found that climate policies have been lacking sufficient gender equality insights.[4] Embedding a gender perspective into climate leadership and planning is essential for developing long-lasting climate change adaptation and mitigation policies.

In the next two years, the Nordic Council of Ministers has committed to developing and sharing knowledge on how gender impacts the region’s climate action. Some of the main focuses will be:

  • Ensuring that green jobs and education in STEM sectors like energy, transport and construction do not increase existing gender gaps in the labour market.
  • Strengthening the representation of women in decision making processes on climate action.
  • An analysis of gendered consumption patterns.
  • Gender budgeting for climate policy measures.[5]

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ commitment joins a growing international conversation supporting gender-equal climate action. This year, UN Women’s theme for International Women’s Day was “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.[6] Additionally, the theme of the 66th session of the CSW was “achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.”[7] At a regional level, the Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in November will incorporate equality, empowerment and autonomy of women in all climate policies.[8]

Despite the international momentum behind gender-equal climate action, Australia lags behind. Australia’s inaction on climate and poor representation of women in politics dominated national and international conversations in 2021.[9] In the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow, Australia resisted international pressure to update its 2030 target of 26-28 per cent emissions reductions on 2005 levels.[10] During COP26, Australia refused to sign the agreement to end fossil fuel subsidies[11] and instead continues to invest in and expand subsidies to new fossil fuel projects.[12]

Currently, Australia is ranked 57th in the world for female participation in parliament and women fill less than one third of Lower House seats.[13] Research has found that higher female representation in national parliaments leads to more rigorous climate policies and subsequently lower emissions.[14] Australia’s low female representation in parliament means that the experience of women is not sufficiently captured in climate negotiations, ultimately undermining the effectiveness of climate policies.

Gender inequality and climate change are two issues that Australia urgently needs to tackle, not separately but in tandem. The Nordic Council of Ministers’ commitment to “A Green and Gender-Equal Nordic Region” presents a guiding framework.

By Sienna Parrott

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[1] Nordic Council of Ministers (2022) A Green and Gender-Equal Nordic Region,

[2] Bhalla (2019) The Responsibility to Prevent and Respond to Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Disasters and Crises,

[3] Malala Fund (2021) A greener, fairer future: Why leaders need to invest in climate and girls’ education,

[4] Nordic Council of Ministers (2022) How climate policies impact gender and vice versa in the Nordic countries,

[5] Nordic Council of Ministers (2022) A Green and Gender-Equal Nordic Region,

[6] UN Women (2022) International Women’s Day,

[7] UN Women (n.d.) Commission on the Status of Women,

[8] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2022) Ministers Reaffirm Commitment to Implementing the Regional Gender Agenda, and Autonomy of Women in policies related to climate change and disaster risk reduction,

[9] Curtis (2021) A year of reckoning over the treatment of women, so what hope is there for politics?; Morton (2021) Australia to face growing international pressure to improve 2030 emissions target,

[10] Morton (2021) Australia to face growing international pressure to improve 2030 emissions target,

[11] UK COP26 (2021) Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition,

[12] Armistead et al. (2022) Fossil fuel subsidies in Australia (2021-22),

[13] IPU Parline (2022) Monthly ranking of women in national parliaments,

[14] Mavisakalyan and Tarvedi (2019) Gender and climate change: do female parliamentarians make a difference?

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  • Sienna Parrott
    published this page in Publications 2022-05-11 10:25:27 +1000

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