Resistance and Resilience: Enhancing civic space for women and girls in climate activism

Thursday 2 June
17:45-19:00 CEST
Stockholmsmässan, Room 3

Organizers: The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, DefendDefenders, Earthrights International, and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

About: Women and girls have played prominent roles in the climate justice movement, raising public awareness of the threat of climate change, supporting the development of ambitious climate goals, and leading global climate strikes and demonstrations against fossil fuels, mining, deforestation, and other extractive activities. However, women in the climate movement often face disproportionate levels of violence, harassment, and discrimination. Girls and young women, particularly, have been the victims of misogynistic attacks and smear campaigns, and have had their agency, motivations and knowledge on climate issues questioned. At international climate negotiations, states have failed to recognize the role of women climate defenders and to protect their rights. Both state and non-state actors assert that women activists do not understand the complexities of the negotiations at hand and that “real engagement” on climate happens only within formal conferences, closed-door negotiations, and boardrooms, which are typically led by men.

To provide a space that highlights the invaluable contributions of women and girls in the climate justice movement, the organizers respectfully propose to conduct this event alongside the Stockholm+50 conference.

The event will allow participants to gain insight into initiatives that support enhanced civic space to enable activists to carry out their critical work.

Moderator(s): Julie Hunter (International Center for Not-for-Profit Law)


  • Camila Zepeda (Lead Climate and Biodiversity Negotiator Mexico)
  • Natalia Gomez (EarthRights International)
  • Anoshka Violeta (Federación Nativa del Rio Madre de Dios y Afluentes)
  • Mitzi Jonelle Tan (Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines)
  • Radiatu H.S. Kahnplaye (Green Advocates International)

Contact person: Julia DaSilva (

Event outcomes (Key transformative actions):

  • International policymakers and event organizers should ensure space for women civil society activists and policymakers, particularly women from the Global South, by prioritizing female participation, facilitating visa access and translation, and creating dedicated safe spaces for women to engage and have equality at the decision-making table. Events focused on women or gender action plans should not be sidelined but should be mainstreamed and include male policymakers (while not prioritizing their voices over those of women). These actions can be done immediately and will make a huge difference in not only ensuring equity in policymaking, but in creating better solutions designed to address those most disproportionately impacted by the climate and other environmental crises.
  • Governments should protect human rights defenders and provide special protections for those who are particularly vulnerable, including environmental, women, and indigenous defenders, who are under attack. Governments should pass human rights defender legislation, penalize those who persecute defenders rather than providing them impunity, and avoid using national security legislation such as counterterrorism laws to suppress environmental advocacy. Governments should also pass legislation protecting land rights for women and indigenous peoples and implementing equity policies to encourage female participation in decision-making. 
  • Businesses and private actors should do more to protect women environmental defenders, rather than being complicit in the operations of security actors who persecute those seeking to protect their community resources. Women need to be better represented within private entities as well. Private actors can adopt meaningful human rights policies, institute policies to elevate female leadership internally and in communities with whom they engage, and involve communities and female leaders integrally in any decisions affecting their resources.

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