The Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) is one of the nine stakeholder groups of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Established in 2009, the WGC now consists of 33 women’s and environmental civil society organizations, who are working to ensure that women’s voices and their rights are embedded in all processes and results of the UNFCCC framework, for a sustainable and just future, so that gender equality and women’s human rights are central to the ongoing discussions. As the WGC represents the voices of hundreds and thousands of people across the globe, members of the Constituency are present at each UNFCCC meeting and intersessional to work alongside the UNFCCC Secretariat, governments, civil society observers and other stakeholders to ensure that women’s rights and gender justice are core elements of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The goal of the Women’s and Gender Constituency (WGC) is to formalize the voice of the women’s and gender civil society organizations present and regularly active in UNFCCC processes, and to develop, streamline and advocate common positions. The Constituency aims to bring together as many NGO observers accredited to the UNFCCC as possible to work democratically towards achieving its goals. Individuals and organizations who are not accredited to the UNFCCC are encouraged to work through those accredited members and participate in the WGC-hosted advocacy groups.
The Constituency draws upon global commitments to gender equality and women’s rights, especially as they relate to climate change, and toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and related commitments and Rio-Conventions. The Constituency works to ensure that human rights and gender equality are firmly anchored in all climate actions under the UNFCCC and to challenge the extractive, exploitative and patriarchal economic model which has resulted in the climate crisis.
The principles of the Women and Gender Constituency are based on:
- Democratic and participatory governance;
- Respectful and supportive participation;
- Wide and inclusive membership of accredited CSO observers, encouraging regional balance;
- Transparent procedures and clear, timely and flexible communication;
- Participation processes that allow for effective participation of members from all regions and backgrounds;
- Building on history (collectively and individually);
- Mentoring (of younger generations and other newcomers);
- A goal-oriented approach;
- Providing a platform for women’s leadership with broad and participatory access.
The main objectives of the Women and Gender Constituency include:
- Ensuring the representation of women’s voices, experiences, needs and capacities in the UNFCCC process and to provide gender perspectives in all related discussions
- Developing and advocating for common positions based on climate justice principles and work together towards achieving shared goals
- Contributing women and gender-sensitive perspectives and a wider critical analysis of current developments within and around the official negotiations to help foster communication between women and gender organizations and groups, and national- or international fora
- Facilitating and engaging in the daily women and gender caucus during the negotiations
- Liaising with other caucuses and constituencies, especially to identify and build upon common ground
- Collaborating on funding opportunities in a transparent manner and according to agreed guidelines, in order to support the collective work and diverse representation of the Constituency in the UNFCCC process and allow for enhanced capacity building and knowledge sharing.
A Just Framework for Action
The coordination and work of the Women and Gender Constituency will be made within the framework and guidance of the following key considerations as outlined in the WGC 2015 position paper [English], [Español], [Français]:
A just and gender-responsive climate framework can take different forms, but fundamentally it must: respect and promote human rights and gender equality; ensure sustainable development and environmental integrity; require fair, equitable, ambitious and binding mitigation commitments in line with the principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR); call for urgent and prioritized adaptation action and resources that respond to the most vulnerable countries, communities and populations; demand a sustainable energy paradigm that prioritizes safe, decentralized renewable energy systems that benefit people and communities; ensure adequate, new, additional and predictable climate finance for developing countries; provide resources to reconcile loss and damage already incurred from climate inaction; and, ensure full, inclusive and gender-equitable public participation in decision-making, with increased mandatory ex-ante and periodic human rights and gender equality impact assessments. It must ensure that gender equality, equal access to decision making, and benefit sharing are integrated into all its provisions, including through gender-responsive means of implementation. Sex and gender disaggregated data and analysis of the underlying causes of any gender disparities must be mainstreamed in all information, communication and reporting systems.
Our Structure and Governance
The WGC maintains a flexible governance structure, including two co-focal points and a facilitation committee, adapted to best meet the demands of its membership and ensure proper international and regional coordination and guidance. The governance structure is to be transparent and accountable to the members of the WGC.
Download the Charter of the Women and Gender Constituency for further details.
WGC Facilitative Committee and co-Focal Points
Bridget Burns (left) and Gina Cortés (right) are the current Co-Focal Points of the Constituency and are representatives of the global North and global South. In addition, the Facilitative Committee’s members are Cathy Li (Climates), Hwei Lim (Advocate), Gertrude Kenyangi (SWAGEN), Kalyani Raj (AIWC), Marisa Hutchinson (IWRAW), Mwanahamisi Singano (WEDO) and Pat Bohland (LIFE).
Together they are largely responsible for the facilitation of the exchange of information between members of the constituency, observer organizations and the secretariat. Find more information here.