CSW66: The African Risk Capacity, UN Women Call for Concrete Action to Strengthen The Leadership And The Resilience Of African Women And Girls In The Face Of Crisis, Natural Disasters And Climate Change


Dakar/ Johannesburg – On the sides of the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), which took place from 14 to 25 March 2022, the African Risk Capacity (ARC) and UN Women make a joint call to further promote integration of gender equality and the needs of women and girls in climate change and disaster risk management policies and programmes.

Women and girls are disproportionally affected by climate change, natural disasters and other shocks, resulting in a negative spiral of vulnerability and poverty, which leaves them even more exposed to future shocks and crises. On the other hand, women and girls’ untapped potential and capacities remain too often unleveraged in resilience building processes. Yet, their full participation and leadership in climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes is critical to make these more effective for all. Such has been the agreed conclusion of CSW66, which focused on: “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”.

“Achieving such ambitious goal will require integrating the specific needs of women and girls in climate change and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes, but also expanding gender-responsive finance, by increasing investment in gender-responsive climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes” said Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director for UN Women WCARO.

Other critical and urgent actions to build  the resilience of women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters include the financing and provision of sustainable infrastructure and public services, social protection and decent work for women; enhancing gender statistics and data on climate change, environmental and systemic risks and disaster impacts disaggregated by sex; and fostering a gender-responsive, just transition to regenerative green and blue economies.

In this context, UN Women and ARC are joining hands to reduce gender inequalities in access to resilience building mechanisms and promote a better integration of gender equality in the disaster risk management in the Sahel and other African countries. For example, in Senegal and Mali, UN Women and ARC, in partnership with UNCDF, are also engaging with the private sector in Senegal and Mali to pilot innovative and gender-responsive resilience-building services, including mobile-enabled disaster insurance, financial literacy trainings, climate services and early warning systems that are tailored to the specific needs of rural women.

According to Ibrahim Cheikh Diong, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Director-General, African Risk Capacity (ARC) Group: “Gender considerations in disaster risk management and financing must be a priority to state and non-state actors as gender aspects cut across all themes. Disaster risk finance, disaster preparedness and response entails giving maximum attention to women’s needs. While women and vulnerable groups are the most affected by disasters, they are not prioritized in the budgets of governments on the African continent.”

UN Women and ARC are working together for the implementation of the Nairobi Declaration that calls to “Member States and Regional Economic Communities to increase the annual budgetary allocation and establish innovative financing solutions, including by participating in ARC’s innovative risk pooling mechanism, for the implementation of gender sensitive and inclusive disaster risk reduction strategies, programmes and plans of action at all levels”. Adopted at the 8th Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and the 7th High Level meeting organized by the African Union Commission (AUC), Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) and UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the Nairobi Declaration is a call to strengthen disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk through gender and inclusion mainstreaming, by promoting participation and inclusion of women, youth, and other vulnerable groups and by formulating gender-responsive DRR policies, strategies, plans and legal frameworks in line with the Sendai Framework, Paris Agreement, SDGs and the New Urban Agenda to ensure risk responsive development.