Feminist Foreign Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region an Online International Workshop Program, a Two-Day Immersive Online Discussion Workshop was conducted on 19 and 20 September 2023 by IMPRI, Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi.
Feminist Foreign Policy, once sidelined for decades, is gaining well-deserved recognition thanks to transnational feminist solidarity in peacemaking, peacebuilding, and peacekeeping efforts. This approach offers a powerful perspective to challenge prevailing global power structures, including patriarchy, racism, cultural nationalism, imperialism, and militarism, and places gender equality and women’s rights at the forefront of diplomatic agendas.
Dr. Lavanya Shanbhogue Arvind, an assistant professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, highlighted the intersection of feminist foreign policy and climate change. Climate change is now acknowledged as a gender-sensitive issue, with profound implications for women, gender minorities, sexual minorities, transgender and non-binary communities, and marginalized groups. In this report, we explore the intricate relationship between climate change and feminist foreign policy, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Climate Change as a Transnational Challenge
Climate change extends beyond national borders and boundaries, making it a transnational and transboundary issue of utmost significance. The nations in the Asia-Pacific region share numerous natural resources, including rivers, forests, and biodiverse regions. Climate change poses an existential threat to these shared resources, with potential repercussions for the livelihoods of those who rely on them.
As such, addressing climate change requires a multilateral perspective and global cooperation. It is a challenge that transcends the capabilities of any single nation. The principles of feminist foreign policy offer a valuable framework for understanding and addressing climate change, as they emphasize human rights, social justice, environmental justice, and gender equality.
The Gender Dimensions of Climate Change
Climate change has profound gender dimensions that must be acknowledged. Women, who often find themselves in economically disadvantaged and marginalized positions, are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. As natural disasters become more frequent and extreme weather events more severe, women face increased vulnerabilities. They shoulder responsibilities such as water and fuel collection, managing household resources, and agricultural tasks, which become more arduous in the face of climate-related challenges.
Furthermore, climate change exacerbates existing gender inequalities. Access to resources, decision-making power, and social protections are distributed unequally, with women often encountering barriers to their participation and representation in climate-related processes.
Policy Frameworks and Global Commitments
Several global policy frameworks, including the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), incorporate gender considerations in their principles. Nevertheless, translating these commitments into tangible actions remains a substantial challenge.
The feminist framework for climate action underscores the necessity of recognizing the diversity within gender identities and prioritizing inclusive decision-making processes. It calls for addressing resource distribution, ensuring equitable access to resources, and implementing gender-responsive budgeting within climate financing.
Challenges and the Way Forward
Despite the existence of global commitments and the recognition of gender dimensions in climate change, significant challenges persist. Gender-based violence often goes unaddressed in climate discussions, and women’s roles as leaders, innovators, and decision-makers in environmental initiatives are frequently overlooked.
To promote gender-responsive climate policy, it is crucial to implement gender-responsive budgeting, collect disaggregated data, and empower women as leaders in environmental initiatives. The sustainable development goals that prioritize gender equality should serve as guiding principles in shaping climate policies.
The Asia-Pacific Context
The Asia-Pacific region is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to its geographic location and extensive coastlines. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and changing precipitation patterns are already affecting communities across the region. Women in these communities often bear the brunt of these changes, as they are responsible for securing food, water, and shelter for their families.
To address these challenges, feminist foreign policy can play a crucial role in shaping climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. By prioritizing the inclusion of women and marginalized groups in decision-making processes, policies can better address the needs and vulnerabilities of these communities.
Feminist foreign policy offers a holistic and inclusive approach to addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by climate change in the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide. Recognizing the gender dimensions of climate change is not merely an issue of equity but a fundamental requirement for effective climate action and the achievement of a sustainable future for all.
As the world grapples with the pressing climatic crises, it is imperative that nations in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond embrace feminist foreign policy principles to ensure a just and equitable response to the challenges posed by a changing climate. By doing so, we can build a world where no one stands alone, and all are connected in the pursuit of a sustainable and inclusive future.
Acknowledgement: Rehmat Arora is a research intern at IMPRI.
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