CSW66: Women at forefront of climate solutions 

Women in Cameroon’s Minawao refugee camp making ecological charcoal. Photo: Notang TOUKAP Justin
Women in Cameroon’s Minawao refugee camp making ecological charcoal. Photo: Notang TOUKAP Justin

LWF's advocacy for gender and climate justice will take center stage at 66th Commission on the Status of Women 

(LWI) - It is no secret that women are among those worst affected by environmental disasters, yet they are habitually excluded from the decision-making spaces seeking practical and sustainable solutions. That is why the 66th session of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which opens on 14 March, is focusing on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls in the context of climate change, disaster risk reduction and environmental policies. 

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has been accredited to CSW since 1952 and has a delegation of over 80 people from different parts of the globe participating in this year’s hybrid event. Working closely with the Lutheran Office for World Community at the UN in New York, delegates will partner with governments, ecumenical and civil society colleagues to highlight the vital role that faith actors play in promoting women’s empowerment, combating violence and discrimination to achieve greater gender equality at local, national and international levels.  

At CSW this year we are drawing from the rich gender and climate justice work that LWF has led over the years.
Ms Sikhonzile Ndlovu, LWF Advocacy Officer for gender justice

LWF’s Advocacy Officer for gender justice, Ms. Sikhonzile Ndlovu says “the CSW is a vital advocacy space for the LWF, as we bring local voices and experiences to shape dialogue at the global level. This year we are drawing from the rich gender and climate justice work that LWF has led over many years. Young people have been at the heart of that work, underlining the urgency of these issues, and we see the CSW as another opportunity to bring those voices onto the global stage.” 

Gender and climate justice are two pillars of LWF’s advocacy work - alongside peacebuilding, human rights and humanitarian work - which is set out in a new Advocacy Framework published in February 2022. This work will be showcased at CSW during two parallel events entitled ‘Women on the Frontline of climate change mitigation and adaptation’ and ‘Youth-led Climate Justice Action’. Four other key events, in cooperation with partners, will highlight faith actors addressing climate and conflict, the importance of climate finance and the key role of women and girls in climate change action. 

Women on the frontline 

LWF’s General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt will address the 15 March ‘Women on the Frontline’ event, which will be attended by U.S. government expert Christina Chan, senior adaptation advisor to John Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change. Abdoul Aziz, an environmental and water engineer, serving as an LWF project coordinator in northern Cameroon, will be sharing best practices of reforestation, the production of ecological charcoal and awareness raising with people in Minawao refugee camp. Other panelists bringing practical experience of women’s empowerment in the work of climate advocacy will be Lutheran Bishop Patricia Davenport from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Patriciah Roy Akullo, ACT Alliance coordinator at DanChurchAid in Uganda. 

LWF is partnering with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for the 21 March ‘Youth-led Climate Justice Action’ event which features two familiar faces from LWF’s youth delegation to the COP26 conference in November last year. Zuzanna Welman, from the Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland and Khulekani Magwaza, climate and energy justice coordinator for the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute, will be sharing perspectives on the urgency of the climate crisis for women and men of their generation. They will be joined by Daphney Leola Kiki, youth leader for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, Doris Mwikali, National Climate Action Program Lead at the Kenya Red Cross and Elena Cedillo, LWF’s Program Executive for Climate Justice. 

An exhibition booth, on display for delegates in New York, but also online during the two-week CSW session, features the work of young people from the Salvadoran Lutheran Church who come together to clear rubbish from the Matizate River in the municipality of El Paisnal and to teach recycling techniques to members of the Piedra Azul community in the eastern department of San Miguel.  

LWF/P. Hitchen