[This story is a contest entry for the World Bank’s data visualization storytelling contest. It explores the interplay between climate change i.e Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, and the other SDGs. The charts are best viewed on Desktop.]

Within the climate crisis, there exists a gender crisis. Global evidence shows that the impact of climate change on the health and livelihoods of women and girls is more severe, compared to men. Extended periods of drought, heat and cyclones have led to a rise in child brides in countries like Malawi, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Niger, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. In a village in the state of Maharashtra in India, men are solving for acute water shortage by taking multiple ‘water wives’ to ensure supply of drinking water in their household. World over, climate-induced displacement has aggravated domestic and sexual violence against women. Despite this, women are missing from the decision-making table to influence policy on climate action.

With less than a decade to the 2030 deadline, the world is dangerously off-track in its progress towards achieving the SDGs. Three in four targets within the 17 SDGs, depend on advancing the rights and representation of women. At the current rate of progress, the World Economic Forum estimates it will take over 130 years to close the gender gap. For these reasons, accelerating action on SDG 5 on gender equality, is essential to the success of the entire SDG framework. Only when women get equal access to education, employment and financial resources, can nations make progress to mitigate climate change.

Gender unequal societies are more vulnerable to impacts of climate shocks. An association between the Global Gender Gap Index, a proxy for women’s health, education, economic, and political well-being; and the Climate Vulnerability Index, which assesses a country’s exposure to climate hazards, reveals this trend. Out of the 153 countries, the high-risk nations belong largely to South Asia and Africa. These countries are also poor agrarian economies. They are home to 40 percent of the world’s population, but own just 7 percent of the world’s wealth, per capita. In the battle against climate justice, women in these countries face a double disadvantage – first, the burden of poverty, and then the prevalence of unequal gender norms.

A closer look at these high-risk, gender-disparate societies, reveals a common trait: A high dependence on women to perform agricultural labor. In developing countries, women are about half of the agricultural workforce, performing unpaid work as family members. Women also contribute 60 to 80 percent of the food production in these countries. But only 20 percent of them own land, on average. Gender-disaggregated data from 100 countries, on agriculture employment and land ownership, points out this divide. Over 70 percent of women in Malawi, Mozambique and Uganda, and half of the female workforce in India and Bangladesh, work in farms, forests and fields. Yet, only men hold secured rights to agricultural land in these countries.

SDG target 1.4, on “all men and women to have equal rights to ownership and control over land and other forms of property and inheritance by 2030”; and SDG target 5.a on “reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance, and natural resources in accordance with national laws” recognize the importance of women owning property rights and land titles.

Women’s ownership of land improves their social and economic well-being. It provides them access to technology and markets in the form of agricultural inputs and credit. When women get access to the same resources as men, agricultural yields increase. Better agricultural output creates a ripple effect on other SDGs like poverty reduction, food security, environment conservation, and climate adaptation. Even then, in at least 123 countries, laws and customs inhibit equal rights for women to inherit, own, use and control land. In the absence of land rights, women are vulnerable, as they have to rely on community networks for support. They get lower access to information on cropping patterns, weather events, and adaptation technology.

Women’s perspective is central to climate solutions. When women become part of decision-making leadership, investments and legislations, are more mindful of the climate concern. Yet, at the Conference of Parties (COP), the world’s largest forum for climate action, women’s voices are missing.

In the last twenty-six sessions of COP, women made for less than a third of all delegates. Over the years though, representation has gone up. But the one-third mark of representation has been crossed just once, at COP27, at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.