“The effects of gender imbalance amongst decision-makers go beyond headline statistics. The lack of power and influence wielded by women in public and political life is undermining progress towards a world where poverty is eradicated and men and women are able to build sustainable and secure futures for themselves and their families.” - VSO (2015) Women in Power: beyond access to influence in a post-2015 world

What We Are Tracking

This section of the Gender Climate Tracker, Women’s Participation Statistics in Climate Diplomacy, tracks women’s participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process as members of their Party delegations, role as Heads of Delegation, and members of constituted bodies.


Climate policies and actions should be responsive to gender power structures and social constructs, recognize and respond to the needs, perspectives, and rights of women and men, and enhance and protect women’s human rights. This includes the right for women and men to fully and effectively participate in climate change decision-making at all levels. This section highlights the current panorama of women’s participation in climate policymaking, noting that women have been historically under-represented in this multilateral decision-making, in order to inform necessary actions to accelerate progress toward parity. 


The UNFCCC has worked to strengthen women’s leadership in climate negotiations, but progress remains inconsistent. A few of the key decisions are: 

Decision 36/CP.7 (2001)
  • This COP decision advocated for the improvement of women's participation in the representation of Parties in bodies under the UNFCCC or Kyoto Protocol. 
Decision 23/CP.18 (2012) 
  • This decision promoted gender balance and how to improve the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations, highlighting countries’ recognition of the importance of equitable participation. 
  • The decision also established the goal for a “gradual, but significant increase” in the participation of women in the UNFCCC. 
Decision 21/CP.22 (2016) 
  • This COP decision invites Parties to “continue to assist” in two gender-balance related activities: training and awareness-raising on gender balance, and capacity building for women delegates to better prepare them for the negotiations. 
Decision 3/CP.23 (2017)
  • This COP decision brought the formal establishment of the GAP, often hailed as a key milestone in the UNFCCC process, and showed commitment to a roadmap of gender-related activities. 
  • Within the GAP, Parties noted the lack of progress that had been made in delegations toward the goal of gender balance and prompted for the inclusion of gender within climate policy using five priority areas, including capacity building, pursuing meaningful participation, especially among indigenous and grassroots communities and effective monitoring and reporting mechanisms. However, the plan itself lacks clear targets and indicators to adequately evaluate progress. 
Decision 3/CP.25 (2019)
  • This COP decision reiterated the importance of the “full, meaningful and equal participation and leadership of women in all aspects of the UNFCCC process” and recognized that such participation and leadership should be happening at all levels. 
  • The decision once again focuses on gender-balance, women’s participation and leadership as one of five priority areas, the GAP’s three activities in this area focused on capacity-building for women delegates; travel funds for both Party delegates and grassroots, local and Indigenous Peoples communities; and a dialogue with the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform Facilitative Working Group. 
Decision 20/CP.26 (2021)
  • In this decision, Parties requests that the Secretariat explore automation of the process to capture sex-disaggregate speaking times, following the insightful data from the 2021 gender composition report noting the dynamics of speaking times of delegates compared to their relative representation. 
  • This work added another dimension to the gender composition report, as requested by the GAP adopted at COP25, which confirmed that males, comprising the majority of delegates in a room, speak the majority of the time.


Data Sources

The breakdown of Party delegates and Heads of Delegation by male/female* is collected from the UNFCCC final list of participants for each meeting during the years 2008-2022, including all intersessional and COP meetings, published at the end of each meeting. The data for constituted bodies is drawn from the UNFCCC's annual gender composition reports. These sources are public. 

*At COP27 in 2022, the UNFCCC registration for the first time allowed registrations with a non-binary title. Only two Party delegates selected the Mx. identifier at COP27 (both from Canada), and while the GCT revises its notations, these delegates are included as part of women’s participation, which will represent women and gender-diverse people.

Data Analysis

WEDO extracts the sex of each Party delegate and Head of Delegation from the final list of participants. The first delegate listed is considered the Head of Delegation. Our data is revised under the seven steps of the data quality process: extraction, profiling, cleansing, standardization, enrichment, approval and quality monitoring.

Data Limitations and/or Biases

This dataset on Party delegates is restricted to published information on participants in official government delegations and members of UNFCCC boards and bodies. We do not count non-governmental stakeholders.  We are subject to the binary sex indicator established during the UNFCCC registration (until COP27, when a non-binary option was added); we acknowledge that a more robust understanding of gender identities is not captured by this process.

Dataset Characteristics 

The GCT dataset on Party delegates and Heads of delegation is accurate, complete, appropriate, consistent, and relevant. The dataset is consistently based on the final list of participants and covers every UNFCCC meeting since 2008, with relevance to longstanding concerns on women’s participation and achieving gender balance. The constituted bodies dataset directly the record-keeping of the UNFCCC as housed in the gender composition reports, published since 2012, with the addition of the Green Climate Fund Board, which is tracked separately by WEDO, but displays the data differently in the hopes of adding value.

Data Discrepancies

Two other sources of data are often cited when it comes to women’s participation in the negotiations, and users of these sources may notice that these data are not equivalent. The annual gender composition report published each August or September by the UNFCCC contains an overall breakdown of women’s participation on Party delegations, but does not disaggregate this data by Party. Additionally, the UNFCCC uses data on “the number of Party delegates having attended the sessions as at the last day,” and they include Party overflow, which means the total number of delegates is not equivalent to what is displayed in the final list of participants. The discrepancies for overall women’s participation are usually on the order of 1-2 percentage points.

The UNFCCC gender composition report also includes additional data not available publicly, so their analysis on women’s leadership includes deputy heads of delegation, and in recent years the reports have provided an age breakdown of Party delegates. During the negotiations, researchers often publish data based on the provisional list of participants, which is publicly released by the UNFCCC prior to the end of the meeting. For the consistency and comparability of our dataset, we only use the final list of participants. Our experience is that the provisional list of participants and final list of participants can be substantially different, particularly at the Party level.

Data Sharing

As part of continuously promoting transparency and accessibility, WEDO is willing to share our datasets and/or discuss our methodology with any researchers. For more information, please contact

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