Women Leadership Session: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion for a Greener Future

Day: 24th February, 2023 | Wednesday
11:15 am – 12:15 pm (IST) | Click here for time in your location
Venue: Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi


We are heading into a ‘new’ world whose common future would be an assortment of climate change induced conflicts, waves of pandemics, extreme weather events, plummeting socio-economic disparities and unending humanitarian crises. In view of this, listening to, acting by, and enabling inclusion in decision-making processes becomes imperative. One of the biggest fallacies in the gender and climate discourse has been either elevating women to the status of heroes or relegating them to that of being mere victims. This dichotomy perhaps often leads to the blurring of nuances and uniqueness of gendered experiences that exist even within the female identity. The way to break these structural patterns is by working to create new ones, ones where women are structurally represented in the decision-making process at all levels.

Despite the exorbitant usage of the word “intersectionality”, much of the world continues to design solutions in silos, keeping women outside the decision-making process and consequently limiting the perspectives for holistic policy-making. Diversity in perspectives, lived experiences, and approaches brought by women makes their involvement and role in participatory policy-making for climate action even more critical.

Women Leadership in the Global South

The concept of women leadership, however, is interpreted differently by the global north and global south. A growing body of literature points out that women's leadership starkly differ in the context of ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries. In ‘developed’ countries, women’s leadership is considered in the context of boardrooms, banking, finance and business, whereas in developing countries, and especially rural communities, women’s leadership is considered in the context of public services such as schools and healthcare, entrepreneurship, and participation in local governance.

Challenges to Women Leadership

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development rightly calls for ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. Women have led sustainable development actions as activists, advocates, and scientists and yet, men outpace women in leadership roles and pay parity across sectors including — corporates, non-profits, governments,, law, education, and security establishments. Though gender equality is a fundamental right, women and gender minorities still face challenges in achieving leadership positions as a consequence of discrimination on the grounds of gender and social stereotypes. The implications of such prejudiced leadership which constrains women's empowerment is a cause for both concern and discussion.


This session intends to facilitate a platform where a strong panel of women leaders across the globe come together and deliberate on the path to a sustainable future for all. The discussions will revolve around ways to address the numerous challenges confronting women and gender minorities in leadership positions, including poor access to social and economic capital, a constraining gender culture, a paucity of role models/mentors, and inadequate positive attitudes about their own personal capacities.

As marginalised voices find representation in leadership roles, with their causes of vulnerability often becoming areas of targeted focus, the objective of this session is to hear from women leaders about their interventions to reshape conversations and reimagine institutional governance around climate change. Adding to this line of deliberation, we hope to hear from women leaders on their efforts of reaching out to the voices from the ground through the positions they command to act as the mouthpiece of those who are often unheard.

Key Questions (speakers are requested to address all/ at least two questions)

[1] How are women leaders using their positions to question the status quo and bringing more voices from the ground to the forefront?

[2] What kind of platforms need to be created to address the four types of barriers to leadership and empowerment for women—structural barriers, institutional mind-sets, individual mind-sets, and life choices? Are there any good practices/ case studies?

[3] What more can be done to expand social capital and attract, retain, and advance women in political, economic, and public spheres?

[4] What norms and paradigm shifts can be promoted by international forums such as the G20 and COPs to promote gender inclusivity in leadership positions?


The session will involve a chaired/ moderated discussion, which will start with brief remarks by the chair/ moderator followed by brief addresses/ statements by the speakers. After the addresses, depending on the remaining time, the chair will pose 1–2 questions to the esteemed speakers based on issues emerging from the addresses. The chair/ moderator will then sum up the discussions. The total length of the panel discussion is 60 minutes. The addresses should be in the form of verbal interventions only. The WSDS Secretariat requests speakers to avoid using power point presentations. Strict time management is to be followed, for which there will be a timer/ buzzer.


WSDS Secretariat

Centre for Sustainable
Development Research and Leadership,
The Energy & Resources Institute
6C, Darbari Seth Block, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road
New Delhi - 110 003 India

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