A changing climate impacts us all - but not equally.

We know that women and girls are disproportionally impacted by climate change, particularly in developing countries.

They experience pervasive and persistent inequality and discrimination that limits their ability to adapt and respond.

Their livelihoods are often dependent on those sectors where the impacts are most acutely felt - such as agriculture, forestry and water.

We all support an effective response to climate change - but the response can only be effective if the experiences and capacities of women are valued and embraced.

The enduring success of the historic agreements of 2015 – think of this, in 2015 we have the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and, of course, the historic Paris Agreement – the success of these three agreements is dependent upon effectively engaging women and girls – and this is true for every global challenge.

Australia is committed to translating the ambitions enshrined in these global commitments into practical, gender-responsive action.

And we’re at the forefront of efforts to promote the empowerment of women and girls, particularly in our region, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

I have set a target within our Overseas Development Assistance Program that at least 80 per cent of investments have to effectively consider gender equality throughout their implementation.

When we set a target like that, and people start thinking about the impact of an aid program, and recognise that we have to look at gender equality in how we implement it, you do see results.

We have a flagship program focusing on Pacific women and it really does capture our commitment to advancing gender equality.

The program provides $320 million to improve the political, economic and social opportunities of Pacific women.

Last week I met with eminent women and men from across the Pacific to discuss the progress made as a result of this program and the challenges ahead. 

We actually established a Gender Equality Fund to support innovative investments that accelerate progress towards gender equality.

We are seeing the benefits already.

I am proud that an investment under the fund is being showcased here today - the ‘W+ Standard’, developed by WOCAN - Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management.

WOCAN’s innovative approach certifies economic or environment projects that create social and economic benefits for women.

The ‘W+ Standard’ is already being utilised in Cambodia where women represent more than 90 per cent of stove users. Here the standard is being applied to promote women’s financial inclusion and access to clean energy.

I think WOCAN have done a wonderful job and I congratulate them on receiving a Momentum for Change Awardand recognise the UNFCCC Secretariat for their continued efforts to highlight transformational climate change activities.

Women, as agents of change, are critical in meeting the challenges of climate change and the pursuit of sustainable development.

And let’s face it, women bring particular perspectives, priorities and strengths from their life experiences.

Removing barriers to women’s leadership is a priority for Australia.

And when I say leadership, I mean not just political, but leadership in the family and communities, towns, provinces and politics.

We are committed to increasing the influence of women in driving solutions to climate change, including through strengthening their participation in UNFCCC processes.

At COP21, I was pleased to announce Australia’s support to harness the talents of the next generation of female negotiators, including through negotiator training for Pacific women delegates.

And I know a number of the women who received this training are here today in Marrakesh, pursuing their countries national interests.

We also support the ProPa network - a collaboration of government actors in the Pacific that works to ensure social inclusion and gender issues are integrated into climate change action and humanitarian response.

Four members of this network are also here in Marrakesh.

Australia was a strong advocate for the inclusion of gender in the Paris Agreement.

We support the ongoing efforts of Parties and the UNFCCC to promote gender issues through the Lima Work Programme on Gender.

The Work Programme has strengthened awareness and understanding of the differential impacts of climate change and the importance of women’s empowerment to lasting climate action.

We must continue this good work.

Linking our action on gender equality and climate change is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do– it will accelerate our transition to more resilient low emissions future.

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