Greater LA Chapter USNC - UN WOMEN First Annual Special Assembly: WOMEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN RIGHTS

11:00 Dec 8 2012 606 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

Women, Climate Change and Human Rights
UN Women – USNC Greater Los Angeles Chapter’s First Annual Special Assembly

(Los Angeles, CA – December 16, 2012) Women, Climate Change and Human Rights: First Annual Special Assembly was hosted on Saturday, December 8th by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the United States National Committee for UN WOMEN in Santa Monica at the SGI Culture of Peace hall. The event featured a dynamic panel discussion with experts from the fields of academia, politics and activism while local NGOs, sustainable businesses and a vegan food share offered options for better green living practices and consumption. Artist Marina DeBris delivered an outstanding collaborative performance.

Cathy Hillman, Founder and President of the Greater L.A. Chapter, welcomed the participants by explaining that because underserved global women are responsible to secure water, food, fuel for cooking and heating and housing for their families, they suffer the most from eco-system deprecation. Hillman pointed out that while national and international policy makers are slow to act, we can do our part by increasing awareness and acting locally.

A video contribution by Cate Owren, Executive Director of WEDO (Women's Environment & Development Organization), kicked off the assembly. Ms Owren, speaking from Doha, Qatar at the UN Climate Change negotiations, stated that climate change is the most critical human rights issue of our time. Women and men experience different impacts from climate change and contribute to its drivers differently. She also relayed that parties at the conference in Doha agreed to strengthen and recall the 11 year old decision on supporting women's participation in global negotiations. Owren concluded that 'We must understand gender equality as a complex issue, just getting women to the table is not enough'.

TV host Sarah Backhouse showed a video produced by her online video platform,, which increases awareness about clean technology. Backhouse introduced the panel speakers: Dr. Elaine Enarson, founding member of the Global Gender and Disaster Network and founder/co-facilitator of the US Gender and Disaster Resilience Alliance; Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles; Dr. Richard Matthew, Professor of International and Environmental Politics, UC; Irvine and Anna Cummins, co-founder & Director of Outreach, 5 Gyres.

The paneled event was an inspired conversation between activists and academics. Discussions delved deeply into both local and global concerns from hurricane Sandy (which increased Americans’ awareness of climate change, the lacking infrastructure and disaster preparedness) to the fact that in countries already suffering from economic and political conflicts, the aftermath of disaster causes merciless disintegration, fueling chaos and horrific violence of which women suffer most. The panel also addressed the key role of women in disasters in keeping their families and communities together and the importance of increasing the number of women in leadership positions. The panel and participants emphatically agreed that we all need to make mindful decisions about the way we live our lives, the products and services we purchase. The Q&A was very energetic and inspired further discussion about the importance of increasing awareness of climate change as it relates to women. Participants enthusiastically expressed interest in further networking and engagement.

After the panel discussion, the crowd was entertained by a collaborative performance by Marina DeBris, Maya Gabay, Sheryl Lee and, Marla Leigh. Ten models paraded down the center aisle in costumes made of trash that Marina collected on the beach, a powerful way to illustrate the need to recycle and stop plastic pollution. Actress and poet Sheryl Lee (who played Laura Palmer on “Twin Peaks”) read a poem, while Maya Gabay danced and Marla Leigh played flute and drums.
Credibility: UP DOWN 0
Melanie Bielefeld (May 7 2013)
This event weaved together a community of science, art, politics, inspiration and discovery in a very short period of time. Ending a very lively and informed discussion on climate change impacts with an artistic performance brought beauty, hope and direction to the actions that lay ahead. Thank you USNC-LA for organizing such a groundbreaking event!
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