The International Day of Indigenous Women celebrated annually on 5 September serves as a reminder that indigenous women play a leading role in reducing the harmful emissions that contribute to climate change, and help their communities address adverse, climate-related impacts.
As one example, indigenous women from the Kainai First Nation in Canada have helped lead collaborative efforts with scientists and practitioners to develop a project which aims to increase the climate change knowledge and skills of the Tribe.
“Indigenous women carry the knowledge of their ancestors while also leading their communities into a resilient future. When indigenous women engage, climate policies and actions at every level benefit from their holistic, nature-focused knowledge and leadership,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa.
As former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, explained in a recent interview: “Indigenous women help protect the fragile territories in which they live. Indigenous women are crucial transmitters of knowledge related to sustainable environmental management to future generations.”
Science assessments from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) are conclusive: traditional practices to steward and regenerate nature in forests, grasslands and other ecosystems stewarded by indigenous peoples provide essential assets in the fight against climate change. While indigenous peoples make up only 6.2% of the global population, they protect 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity.
Learning from these experiences and enhancing the participation of indigenous women in climate policy is critical to achieving commitments under the Paris Agreement and sustainable, inclusive development.