by Mimi Melles of the Time is Now Campaign and member of COP18 Youth Gender Working Group. Originally posted on Amplify

Doha, Qatar (December 3, 2012)– During these past few days of COP18, I’ve been working closely with members of the gender working group  represented in the official youth constituency, YOUNGO. Together, we have been meeting with negotiators, raising questions regarding gender and youth and posting blogs to raise the visibility of women’s empowerment, gender, human rights and health, particularly reproductive health and rights, in the climate change discussions.

Here from four diverse perspectives of our YOUNGO gender working group as they believe that gender, reproductive justice and climate change are clearly relevant and important issues to address at COP18 in Doha:

Andreas, 24, Sweden

“I think the connection is important in order to see the consequences of the climate change on a reality level, beyond suffering polar bears but also to realize how women are disproportionately affected by the negative consequences of climate change and the importance of gender in decision-making.”

Naima, 24, Costa Rica, Germany, United States

“Because the world is in both women and mens hands! It would be a huge step for this region to come out with a bold decision on women’s empowerment and gender equality, and to achieve this we need to make sure reproductive health and rights are apart of the discussions. ”

Desiree, 24, Philippines

“Addressing reproductive health issues and its impact on climate change is the big elephant in the room, but it’s an issue that our poltical and religious leaders cannot further ignore. Ignoring this leads to more vulnerable communities at risk and paints a bleak tomorrow for future generations. ”

Jonny, 23, Ireland

(in photo: with Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland)

“COP18 presents a unique position where delegations can show strong leadership in advocating for the cross-cutting issue of gender, health and reproductive rights, while driving for gender balance on their delegations and with future engagement in the UNFCCC process. This issue is something that fails to even make the agenda and in my own view and at this point in time that is unacceptable. Diversity breeds innovation and innovation brings solutions to the barriers that we have had in the UNFCCC for many years. We must seek to address gender, health and reproductive rights within the next 10 days and leave a lasting legacy that has the potential to catalyse future change.”

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