OSCE committee recognize importance of gender and youth perspectives in climate action

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins today spoke in support of a successful resolution calling for OSCE members to incorporate gender and youth dimensions to their climate actions. Senator Higgins was attending the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Luxembourg as part of the Irish delegation. 

The resolution, which was dicussed at the committee on economic affairs, science, technology and environment, recognises that the impacts of climate change can differ according to geder and age. It notes that young people in particular are leading the global calls for action and calls for practical measures to support and enhance this youth voice in policy-making. 

Speaking to the assembly Alice-Mary Higgins said, “Young people don’t just want to be part of photo opportunities – they want to be meaningfully engaged in shaping policy and determining our future path of action on climate change.”

She continued, “When we sign new contracts or give away licences for more drilling, we are actively disenfranchising young people because we are narrowing the time and space for them to make political change in the future”.

The motion which passed the assembly calls for member states to integrate youth and gender perspectives into their work and to facilitate youth leadership. The parliamentary assembly also recommended that states develop climate change gender action plans. This is something Senator Higgins will be pushing for progress in relation to on her return.

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Senator Higgins joins EPF colleagues in calling on governments to ensure sexual and reproductive rights are protected during the COVID-19 emergency

Even during a crisis, women have sexual and reproductive healthcare needs which cannot wait. Governments should be supporting access to essential SRHR services - unfortunately some are actively using this as a chance to block it. As a member of the the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, I have been pressing governments across Europe to actively support access to SHRR in their own countries and across the wider world. Last week we produced a report on ’Sexual and Reproductive Rights during the COVID-19 pandemic’ which described how many women and girls are being left without essential medical services such as contraception and abortion care, HIV and STI testing, reproductive cancer screenings, and adequate pre and post-natal healthcare.

An IPPF survey showed 5.633 community-based care clinics closing across 64 countries, with African countries being the most heavily impacted. EU member states should be giving humanitarian and health support and including SHRR. In terms of particularly time-sensitive healthcare such as abortion, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Portugal have made provisions for remote support of medical abortions, while Poland and Romania seem to be using this crisis to undermine women’s access to rights and reproductive healthcare.

Amid this crisis we have also seen a huge increase in sexual and gender-based violence, an issue that all governments must address head on.