n Gender Questions - Gender and geographical balance : with a focus on the UN secretariat and the intergovernmental panel on climate change - research

Volume 5 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2309-9704



Drawing mostly from publicly available data and information, we analyse how gender and geographical balance play out in the United Nations (UN) bodies, with a focus on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) structures and related activities. Unlike other UN bodies, the IPCC set-up is unique in that it is organised around volunteer expertise drawn from national focal points’ secondment for specific tasks. As such, issues of gender and geographical balance remain sensitive, especially since the object of delivery—climate change—is traditionally framed from the science discipline. It emerged that both the UN Secretariat and the IPCC are still battling with gender and geographical balance matters. As of 2013, women comprised 31.3 per cent of the influential senior professionals (those with a minimum of 15 years’ work experience and ranked at D1+ grades), while the geographical spread of contributors in the IPCC reflects strong dominance from developed countries. Bias in favour of male contributors further emerged. Although there is significant effort to address the situation, we recommend a deliberate fast tracking on the involvement of women and balance in geographical spread, especially in IPCC work. Such fast tracking will assist in having women’s concerns and interests addressed in agenda setting and global programming on climate change and other matters.

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