Why the UK needs a feminist, locally led approach to the climate crisis

IWD parliamentary event

22 March 2024


“We have made a mess,

So it is time now to clean up our chaos”

Excerpt from Poem by Nikita Gill

Read the full poem

On Wednesday 6th March 2024, CARE International UK held an International Women’s Day event in Parliament on Why the UK needs a feminist and locally led approach to the climate crisis. The show-stopping speaker line up included inspirational women leaders from women’s rights organisations, climate activists, poets, and prominent politicians.

CARE in Parliament for International Women's Day

Why is climate change a feminist issue?

She must find a way to

Eat and feed everyone she loves.”

– Nikita Gill

Why is climate change a feminist issue

Artwork produced live at the event by Fiona Macpherson, Inky Thinking

Together, our speakers shone a light on why climate change is a feminist issue and how climate change is sexist. As climate change wreaks havoc in the Global South, increasing the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts, and extreme weather events, the impacts are disproportionately felt by women and girls. They make up the majority of the world’s poor and are more likely to depend on the land and natural resources being threatened by climate change for their food and income. This makes them more vulnerable to displacement, gender-based violence, loss of livelihoods and being pulled out of school.

Gbemisola Titilope Akosa from Centre for 21st Century Issues in Nigeria explained how exploitation and violence against women increases when access to farmland decreases as a result of droughts and floods. Mikaela Loach, one of the UK’s leading climate activists, highlighted how the inequalities we see in the climate crisis are exacerbated by our colonial past – one perpetuates the other and both are choices. She called on the room to continue to ‘humanise the crisis' and recognise that ‘fossil fuels are weapons of mass-destruction'.

What solutions are needed to achieve feminist climate justice?

Show me the achievements of despair

On paper and I will counter it with a list

Full of what hope built in moments of war,

In tragedy, in famine and fire.”

– Nikita Gill

IWD - Solutions

Artwork produced live at the event by Fiona Macpherson, Inky Thinking

Despite the jeopardy of the situation, our speakers left us feeling hopeful that there is a way forward. There is a generation of women and girls - GenAdapt - who are already finding their own solutions and adapting to a new, tougher climate reality in order to survive and thrive. Gbemisola Titilope Akosa inspired us to look at women’s rights organisations as ‘a social asset’ that Governments are yet to realise. Helen McEachern, CEO of CARE International UK, highlighted that the most effective solutions come about when ‘investing in women’s leadership, and ensuring women’s needs and voices are included in decision making processes at local, national and international levels’.

Read how women are leading their communities to tackle climate change


Gbemisola Titilope Akosa kept it plain and simple - ‘it’s not rocket science - if women's rights organisations are to tackle this climate crisis, they must be supported with the funds.’ CARE’s report Turning Promises into Progress: How the UK can realise the potential of gender-just climate action revealed that less than 1% of UK bilateral climate finance spend targeted gender equality specifically and shockingly less than 0.2% is reaching women’s rights organisations.


Ndivile Mokoena shared learnings from a South African context and her organisation GenderCC Southern Africa. She explained that ‘we need to stop measuring women’s participation and start measuring women’s influence, if we want to see things change’. Research shows that when women are at the table – at least 50% – in decision-making groups, environmental preservation policies are more effective. However, women still have difficulty making themselves heard by local and international authorities.

You can read more of Ndivile Mokoena’s and Gbemisola Titilope Akosa’s recommendations for the UK Government in CARE’s COP28 Briefing: Gender-just climate action.


There are opportunities presented in the transition towards a green economy such as new jobs in green industries. Estimates suggest that shifting to a low-carbon economy could create more than 65 million new jobs by 2030. However, Helen McEachern highlighted that we need to make sure that the barriers women currently face in the economy are removed so they can also benefit. Our speakers unanimously called for a just transition away from fossil fuels with Anne McLaughlin MP calling for progress on gender equality to be protected when it comes to domestic policy, international relations and delivering net zero commitments. In her opinion piece following the event, Anne McLaughlin declared how ‘our commitments to net zero and tackling the climate emergency must be viewed through a feminist lens…it is vital that we equip the young workforce with skills and training to deliver on our net zero commitments and encourage young women and girls to pursue careers in these fields.’

What change do we need to see?

There are still daughters and granddaughters out there trying to defend

And protect what remains of their history.

We owe it to them to fight with them

And help them build hope where despair grows”

– Nikita Gill

Titi and Ndivile at Parliamentary event

Image: Gbemisola Titilope Akosa and Ndivile Mokoena speak with Lucy Siegle at the event

To realise gender-just climate action Helen McEachern was clear that ‘something has to change’. Gbemisola Titilope Akosa, who took this message straight to the heart of UK Government and met with Foreign Secretary David Cameron after being invited to speak on a panel at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office earlier in the week on 4th March, declared that we need the UK Government to take a lead because ‘they have the power to do it’.

Jess Philipps MP said it’s time to push for ‘deeds not words’ when it comes to the climate crisis and called on civil society to begin to state ambitious targets and demand more accountability when it comes to feminist funds. Helen Pankhurst laid it out decisively - ‘we need more women in power’ and explained how without gender parity and inclusion of women in key government positions such as finance, this will continue to be an uphill battle.

Anne McLaughlin MP inspired us with examples from Scotland and made the case for why we must work at all levels to effect the change we want to see, because ‘small nations can leverage big influence on the global stage’.

CARE calls for the UK Government to make a meaningful first step and prioritise these recommendations:

  1. Finance - More climate finance to address gender equality – we want to see a target of 88% which is something women’s rights organisations have championed.
  2. Access - Women’s rights organisations to have greater access to that finance – 0.2% just isn’t a fair share, and we also need to increase women’s access to decision making on climate as we know that is very unequal now and is needed to shift the needle.
  3. Opportunities - All UK strategies for accelerating the green transition should include gender equality aims and specific measures to ensure that marginalised women and girls can benefit from new economic opportunities.

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