Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 16, 2022
Thank you. It’s an honor to address this esteemed Commission.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to meet on the Status of Women today without noting the crisis women are facing around the world. Last week, Russia bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol. Russia claimed – in the Security Council – that the bloodied, pregnant woman we saw evacuating the scene was a hoax, talking about makeup and body doubles. And I wonder if they think that the baby she had was an actor, too. And on Monday, we learned the tragic truth: that medics found one of the women from that bombing with her pelvis crushed. They tried to save the mother and the baby. Both died.
The women and girls of Ukraine are suffering tremendously – just as they are in Burma, in Ethiopia, and in Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world – in conflicts under repressive regimes around the world. They are, fundamentally, why we are here and why it is so important that we document their stories, defend their rights, and demand their equality. These are our sisters. Their status is our status. And this is especially true when it comes to the focus of this year’s CSW: the inextricable link between climate change and gender equality.
Let us be clear: The climate crisis is a gendered crisis. It is a sexist crisis. It is a crisis that acutely and disproportionately hurts women, and girls, and gender-diverse people. Women and girls make up the majority of the population in coastal communities – communities that are most under threat. Women and girls are more likely to personally experience poverty and food insecurity, which are made worse by climate change and make it harder to adapt to its myriad impacts.
Women are more likely to be responsible for obtaining increasingly scarce natural resources. The ripple effects of climate change make women and girls more likely to lose access to education, economic opportunities, and sexual and reproductive health services. And in the aftermath of climate disasters, women and girls are at heightened risk of facing sexual exploitation, abuse, harassment, and violence. And women and girls with disabilities are more likely to be excluded or left behind.
And let us also be clear: There is no climate solution without women and girls. And it is the job of this Commission – this year – to empower women and girls, and ensure that they are given the tools, the leverage, and the positions of power where they can make the change that will save us all. Already, at the community level, women are leaders in reducing waste, adopting sustainable agriculture practices, planting trees, and moving away from charcoal as a fuel source. Indigenous women and girls in particular bring knowledge and know-how to implementing culturally appropriate solutions.
For too long women and girls have been asked to shout from the sidelines. Now is the time to lift them up as leaders in addressing the climate crisis – as innovators, entrepreneurs, founders, as peacemakers, politicians, as farmers, and fishers, and food providers, as mothers and daughters.
For our part, the United States is determined to do just that. It’s why President Biden immediately rejoined the Paris Agreement, formed the White House Gender Policy Council, and created our first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. It’s why, across agencies, we are deliberately linking our climate strategy and our gender equality strategy. We do not work on one without the other. And it’s why on International Women’s Day, President Biden announced he is seeking $2.6 billion for foreign assistance programs that promote gender equality worldwide.
Of course, no woman, no country can solve the climate crisis alone. Together, let us call this climate crisis what it is: A crisis for women and girls. And let’s lift up women and girls as leaders in our response to make the change the world so desperately needs.