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The Conference of Parties (COP 18) of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Doha in November, 2012 took a significant decision - Decision 23/CP.18, "to promote gender balance and improve the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and in the representation of Parties in bodies established pursuant to the Convention or the Kyoto Protocol". The COP requested Parties and Observer organizations to submit to the Secretariat their views on options and ways to advance the implementation of the Gender Decision.

Following on from Doha, members of the Women's Caucus, formed a Collective Working Group (CWG) to aid and encourage Parties and Observers to make submissions to the COP Secretariat highlighting the importance of improving the participation of women.

Online technologies were effectively used as a tool to link remote locations and thus, maximise the group's time. Regular interactions were held through emails, Twitter chats, Google Talk, Skype calls and postings on listservs . A Concept Note was ready after online discussions and chats by June 2013 which was shared with Parties. Using the same web tools, an Outreach document was also prepared after detailed virtual discussions to give the Parties guidance on the preparation of a submission.

Members worked hard to approach as many Parties as possible to impress upon them the importance of the Decision and the need to make meaningful and timely submissions. In many cases the members worked actively with the Parties to prepare submissions detailing the current scenario in the country, challenges faced and proposed steps for implementation of the Decision.

The UNFCCC was also very encouraging and cooperative. Ms Christine Figueres met members of the women's groups in Bonn during the Inter-sessionals and briefed them about the plans of the Secretariat to organise a Gender Workshop and Gender Day at Warsaw. Members of the CWG also took active part in a couple of Twitter chats that Ms Figueres had with Climate Change groups.

As a culmination of all the efforts put in by the women's groups as many as 18 submissions from Parties and 10 from Observer organisations have been received. More submissions continue to come in although the deadline is over. All India Women's Conference also made a submission which can be accessed at the UNFCCC website.
Some pertinent recommendations that appear in almost all the submissions are for setting targets and a time frame for implementation, capacity building (of negotiators, delegates, women workers on the ground, government officials etc.), funding for participation, incentives for academic involvement in climate change studies, regular monitoring of implementation, and rewards for achieving targets / sanctions against those who fail in implementation.

It has been a very satisfying learning experience for AIWC to be involved in this advocacy effort. Two members from AIWC, Mrs. Usha Nair and Mrs. Kalyani Raj, are members of the Collective Working Group. They hope that the submissions will improve the percentage of women in UNFCCC that varies from a low 10% in Technology Executive Committee (TEC) to a high of 46% in Consultative Group of Experts (CGE) National Communications.

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