COP28 - Only 15 out of 133 world leaders attending are women

World leaders at COP28

01 December 2023


Women sidelined at climate negotiations in Dubai

While women and girls bear the brunt of the climate crisis, only 15 out of the 133 world leaders participating in COP28 are women.

Last year, seven out of the 110 world leaders attending COP27 were women. Although there has been a welcome increase since last year, at 11%, women are still significantly underrepresented.

Helen Pankhurst, Senior Adviser on Gender Equality at CARE International UK said:

“Yet again, the red carpet is being rolled out for male leaders at COP and men dominate among the senior negotiators. How are we going to achieve a fair outcome in climate negotiations with such inequity at the top? Women and girls are the most affected by climate change, yet they are silenced. Invisible. This must change.”

Only 37% of national delegates at COP27 in 2022 were women, lower than the percentage in 2021. The representation of women was even lower among more senior negotiators. Just 29% of heads and deputy heads of delegations were women at COP27. Data for COP28 has not yet been published.

Francesca Rhodes, Senior Policy Adviser on Climate and Gender at CARE International UK, said:

“Climate change is sexist and impacts women and girls in the Global South disproportionately. For them, the reality of floods, droughts and rising temperatures is more gender-based violence, destroyed livelihoods and lost opportunities. The underrepresentation of women leaders at the top table of COP28 is mirrored across all levels of climate decision making. It is time to turn promises into progress and invest in women leaders, particularly at the local level, so they can drive the decisions that affect them the most.”

The UNFCCC Gender Action Plan states that women should have a full, equal and meaningful participation in all its processes, which includes global climate negotiations. In 2019, all Governments participating in COP agreed to work towards achieving equal participation. However, there is no concrete deadline for this to be achieved, and clearly no urgency being felt.

Rosa van Driel, Advocacy Adviser at CARE Netherlands, said:

“The climate crisis is driven by political and economic policies decided by predominantly male-led governments. At COP28, women's voices are scarcely heard in top decision-making circles. The participation of women, ethnic minorities and marginalized groups in climate and environmental decision-making is a human right, and also leads to stronger environmental outcomes. Policymakers at COP28 must listen to these into account and ensure that women and girls have a meaningful role in shaping more ambitious climate action."

A generation of women and girls are being forced to adapt to a new reality due to the climate crisis. CARE is urging world leaders to listen to the voices of GenAdapt.

"We are not responsible for the damages caused by climate change. I want to say to world leaders - take action so that we can survive the losses that are happening,” said Mamata, who developed an early flood warning system with her community in Bangladesh.

“We need the world's leaders to take action on climate change because it affects us all. Tomorrow may be too late,” said Josselyn, a farmer and community leader from Ecuador.

Find out how CARE is elevating the voices of women and girls at COP28

Editor’s Notes

These numbers are taken from the COP28 family photo, which can be accessed here.

Spokespeople are available at COP28, including:

  • Rosa van Driel, Advocacy Adviser at CARE Netherlands
  • Stephanie Akrumah, a climate activist and a Director of the Centre for Clean Growth, a Ghana based NGO (from 2 December)

We can also share case studies with interviews, photos and videos of women and girls affected by climate change in six countries.

Media Enquiries

For any media enquiries, please contact David Moore, Media Officer at CARE International UK (

Latest news from CARE