Today, on International Women’s day, we should celebrate the fact that women are concretely breaking through the glass ceiling at more and more local elections, and women mayors are increasingly common.
In 2014, only four cities across the C40 network had women mayors - today 15 mayors are women, a 275 percent increase. Governing the most important cities of our planet is no longer forbidden territory for us women.
Yet 2017 has also reminded us that maintaining the values which make our cities such wonderful places to live requires constant vigilance.
Last January, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the Women’s March events in the United States and around the world. They marched to protect women’s rights. Unprecedented scenes on the streets of the world’s most important cities including Washington, Paris, Sydney, Mexico City and London showed that women, notably including very large numbers of young women, stand to defend these values against the forces that would try to undermine them.
As women mayors, we want to support the next generation of women because women bear the primary burden of tackling climate change today, and are likely to continue to do so in the future.
Indeed, it may be an inconvenient truth but women are more vulnerable than men to the disasters of climate change. For instance, 90 percent of the 150,000 people killed in the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone were women. Whereas some prefer to imagine alternative facts, we face the reality making clear that this must change.
Thanks to the tenacity of an exceptional group of women led by Christiana Figueres and Laurence Tubiana, more than 190 nations signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. Yes, women shaped and keep on shaping the future. And the science is clear that the next four years are now crucial. There is no time to waste on arguments with those who would deny the scientific evidence.
In the most important cities of the world, climate change is no longer a question but a reality that demands action. Through our C40 network, 90 mayors representing 650 million urban citizens, are implementing their plans to create the green cities of the future. As members of C40, we know that we need today to support the next generation of women leaders, whose mission is to build tomorrow – starting today.
The Women4Climate initiative will concretely empower them, offering mentorship, support, advice and guidance to these promising young women and their sustainable activities, projects and businesses, for the benefit of the largest possible number of citizens. Helping new generations of women to lead the fight against climate change will make our cities stronger, more resilient and more equal.
Let 2017 be remembered as the year that a new generation of women leaders, galvanised by the threat of climate change and opposed to forces of populism, emerged to transform the world’s great cities. As mayors, our message to everybody, particularly women, who are concerned about climate change is simple: now is the time to save our planet, making it better. We will support you in any way we can with the Women4Climate initiative. Join us!
Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and chair of C40
Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington D.C.
Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Madrid
Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona
Helen Fernández, Mayor of Caracas
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Mayor of Warsaw
Zandile Gumede, Mayor of Durban
Fumiko Hayashi, Mayor of Yokohama
Patricia de Lille, Mayor of Cape Town
Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney
Karin Wanngård, Mayor of Stockholm
The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group connects more than 80 of the world’s greatest cities, representing over 600 million people.
This article was originally published in Reuters.