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Photo by COP28 / Mahmoud Khaled)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

COP28: Hillary Clinton Advocates Climate Resilience in India, Calls for Unified Local Solutions to Fight Climate Change

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the critical need for gender-responsive climate policies, with a particular emphasis on the challenges faced by women in India.

Addressing a session on Empowering Communities: Women at the Heart of Climate Resilience at global climate talks COP28 on Sunday, Clinton pointed out that extreme heat, largely driven by climate change, is a powerful and accelerating threat to livelihoods, human health, and our social fabric, and its impacts are disproportionately harmful and costly to women.

She highlighted the critical need for gender-responsive climate policies, with a particular emphasis on the challenges faced by women in India.

“So extreme heat has to be viewed as one of the most dangerous results of changing climate, especially in India. It is happening, and we know it’s happening. And while we race to find big changes and transitions, we have to worry about what’s happening on the ground with so many millions of people, especially women in India,” Clinton said, acknowledging the unique vulnerabilities faced by women in the country.

Drawing upon her longstanding association with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India, the former US first lady illuminated the multi-faceted impact of extreme heat on women working in the informal sector.

“This is not just a health issue; it is an economic issue, a social issue, a political issue that I’m thrilled we are really raising the visibility up,” Clinton said, underscoring the integral role women play in the Indian informal sector engaged in labor-intensive occupations.

The 76-year-old ex-Democratic Party presidential nominee noted the opposition to women’s rights and opportunities and went on to cite a recent statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping, urging women to focus on marriage and childbearing.

Clinton expressed worry about leaders in various countries sending a message for women to leave the workforce, stay at home, and have more children.

“We observe legislative changes that diminish women’s roles, pushing them to step back from the economy and eroding the rights of women striving for equality,” Clinton remarked.

Reema Nanavaty, Director of SEWA, joined Clinton in shedding light on the challenges faced by Indian women workers due to climate shocks.

Nanavaty elaborated on the difficulties encountered by those involved in street vending, construction, and other labor-intensive occupations.

“I think there’s an urgent need for this Global Climate Resilience Fund for women, especially in India. This will be the first of its kind, a fund for the Global South, and this is a bottom-up fund,” Nanavaty emphasized, aligning with Clinton’s call for a targeted and comprehensive initiative to address the impact of extreme heat on women workers in India.

Both Clinton and Nanavaty highlighted the urgent need for actionable solutions and advocated for a unified appeal for global collaboration to create a sustainable and resilient future for women in India and beyond.

The global climate talks are taking place in Dubai and have seen participation from over 100,000 people from 198 countries.

This story was produced as part of the 2023 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published by The Print on 4 December 2023.

Banner image: Hillary Clinton speaking at the Women Building a Climate-Resilient World panel at COP28 / Credit: COP28 / Mahmoud Khaled.