Empowering Change: Gender and Social Inclusion in Urban Climate Resilience

ICLEI South Asia and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) joined forces to host an engaging webinar titled ‘Accelerating Gender and Social Inclusion in Locally Led Climate Actions to Improve Urban Resilience.’ The insightful event, which took place on May 30, 2023, was organised under the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) Knowledge Accelerator Programme that is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. As an integral part of the ongoing Urban 20 Manthan series, the webinar brought together an exceptional panel of experts who shed light on the pivotal role of gender and social inclusion in the pursuit of urban climate resilience.

With the aim of fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including researchers, decision-makers, policy-makers, experts, and urban practitioners, the webinar took a bold step forward in recognising the significance of marginalized voices in climate resilience actions. By acknowledging local practices, identities, and leadership capacities, the event aimed to explore pathways for accelerating the inclusion of underrepresented communities in the face of climate challenges.

The webinar had three core objectives. Firstly, it sought to underscore the importance of integrating gender and social inclusion in climate planning and actions, shining a spotlight on climate justice and the indispensable role of women and marginalised populations in strengthening local resilience. Secondly, the event aimed to identify and analyse the barriers that impede inclusive climate action, delving into regional perspectives to gain a holistic understanding of the challenges at hand. Lastly, it sought to share successful strategies for overcoming these barriers, drawing inspiration from the experiences and insights of the esteemed panelists.

Leading the discussion was Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, Senior Programme Coordinator at ICLEI South Asia, who moderated the conversation, ensuring a comprehensive and captivating exchange of ideas. The expert panel consisted of Chandni Singh from IIHS, India; Michelle Du Toit from SouthSouthNorth, Africa; Sayli Udas Mankikar from the National Institute of Urban Affairs, India; and Natalia Gavazzo from the Universidad de San Martin (UNSAM), Argentina. Their diverse backgrounds and expertise set the stage for an enlightening exploration of the integration of gender and social inclusion in climate planning and actions.

During the thought-provoking panel discussion, Michelle Du Toit highlighted the pressing need to address structural inequality and power imbalances that perpetuate marginalization within communities. She stressed the importance of adopting an intersectional approach and empowering civil society to create meaningful change by transferring power and resources directly to those most affected.

Chandni Singh called for a paradigm shift, urging society to move beyond viewing women solely as victims of climate change and instead recognizing them as powerful agents of change. She emphasized that inclusive development serves as the bedrock for effective climate resilience planning and shared inspiring examples of women-led collectives in India.

Natalia Gavazzo drew attention to the vulnerabilities faced by women and girls in rural communities due to the impacts of the climate crisis. She underscored the need to address local environmental issues and dismantle the systemic barriers that hinder the efficacy of climate action. Gavazzo also highlighted the intersecting dynamics of climate change, gender, and migration, calling for inclusive decision-making processes that honor diverse perspectives.

Sayli Udas Mankikar emphasized the importance of including men in discussions about gender and ensuring their active involvement in addressing gender issues. She stressed the need for comprehensive disaggregated data and highlighted the pivotal role of knowledge brokers in effectively communicating complex concepts to a wider audience, thus driving meaningful change.

The webinar not only succeeded in shedding light on the critical importance of gender and social inclusion in urban climate resilience but also ignited a powerful call to action. As the world grapples with the challenges of a changing climate, this webinar serves as a reminder that true resilience can only be achieved through inclusivity and collective effort, by amplifying the voices of marginalized communities and embracing their leadership.

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