Women and girls are on the first line of defense against the effects of climate change. They are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because they tend to be more dependent on agricultural production and livestock, are more prone to poverty and food scarcity and receive less education. They are also less likely to own land or personal property, and are especially vulnerable in the face of natural disasters. Skewed power relations and cultural norms leave them underrepresented in decision-making, making it difficult for them to secure better opportunities.
CSW Fact Sheet
- It is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls.
- Women comprise, on average, 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. If they had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 percent. This could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5–4 percent, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12–17 percent.
- Women rely more heavily on forests and natural resources for their livelihood than men. Gender inequality and deforestation were causally related in more than 100 countries between 1990 and 2010.
- Nearly 18 percent of global CO2 emissions are from developing countries’ residential usage. Biomass and coal cook stoves, which release high levels of CO2 and other pollutants, cause about 2 million deaths a year. The health burden of these cook stoves disproportionately fall on women and children.
- A little over 33 percent of governments regularly generate statistics on citizens’ access to clean water. This is a gender issue as, especially in rural areas, women predominantly spend hours collecting water.
Because of these limited adaptive capacities and the lack of available coping mechanisms, women and girls struggle to strengthen their resilience in the face of climate change. As climate change impacts worsen, the gender gap is likely to grow.
Current efforts to address climate change and energy issues do not yet fully acknowledge these gender dimensions. As a result, national and global policy frameworks are not sufficiently gender-responsive and fail to offer women and girls the protection and opportunities they need.
Parliamentarians are uniquely positioned to promote gender-responsive legislation on climate change and energy. To do so effectively, however, existing approaches need to be revised and women need to be actively included in decision-making processes.
Engaging women in decision-making on climate change
While women are disproportionally vulnerable to the effects of climate change, they also play a pivotal role in the development of effective, sustainable solutions. In rural areas in particular, women’s roles and experiences mean they have the knowledge and skills needed to design effective adaptation mechanisms. The nature of their work and chores also means that they are quick to perceive changes in their environments, and can therefore help flag emerging threats such as water shortages, floods, and reduced crop yields.
- “Women’s voices, responsibilities and knowledge on the environment and the challenges they face will need to be a central part of the adaptive response to a rapidly changing climate”
UNEP Women at the frontline of climate change - Gender risks and hopes, 2011
Women are also crucial to the successful implementation of adaptation mechanisms, especially at the household level. Switching to off-grid sources of renewable energy for cooking and lighting, growing more climate-resilient crops, relocating agricultural activities to new lands and so on only work when women are willing and able to embrace these changes. Without their buy-in and cooperation, such solutions are likely to miss their mark. Outreach, engagement and training are critical aspects of successful adaptation mechanisms, and policy-makers should provide for them accordingly.
Mainstreaming gender in climate change and energy policies
Parliamentarians do not operate in a political vacuum and will need government support to affect substantial changes in policy-making. There are a number of ways in which they can help build that support and promote gender-responsive policies. At the occasion of COP 10 in Buenos Aires in 2004, The Women’s Caucus agreed on a set of action points for ‘Mainstreaming Gender into the Climate Change Regime’. Many of these action points can be taken up parliamentarians as well, in their efforts to mainstream gender in policy-making and budgeting on climate change:
- Include both male and female perspectives and sex disaggregated data in situation analysis
- Develop and apply gender‐sensitive criteria and indicators
- Capitalize on skills of both women and men
- Set targets for women’s involvement in activities
- Prioiritise women’s equality, access to info, economic resources and education
- Focus on gender differences in capabilities to cope with climate change adaptation and mitigation, and
- Undertake a gender analysis of all budget lines and financial instruments
- Ensure that risk assessments are informed by a gender analysis (gender analysis should be included in the terms of reference for all assessments and research);
- Build objectives on gender equality and women’s empowerment into the plans and budgets of programme, policy, and campaign work;
- Assess the different implications of planned programme interventions for women and men;
- Proactively seek out and engage with appropriate women’s rights organizations and female community leaders when selecting partners;
- Monitor and evaluate changes in gender relations using gender-sensitive indicators
Gender & Energy
The development of clean sources of energy holds enormous potential for meeting the energy needs of women and girls. In many parts of the developing world, a combination of traditional gender roles and lack of modern energy services mean that women, and sometimes children, must travel considerable distances to gather fuel and water for cooking. For households without access to electricity, household chores are limited to daylight hours, as is reading for schoolwork. In colder regions, fuel must also be collected for heating.
Finally, the continued burning of traditional fuels in unventilated homes has serious health implications, the brunt of which is borne by women and girls.
In rural areas in particular, off-grid sources of renewable sources such as solar, wind, and thermal energy can provide life-changing access to electricity and heating. More broadly, a stable energy supply provides is a huge catalyst for improved economic development and for the provision of basic education and health care facilities.
Mainstreaming gender in energy policies and programming is good social policy and would enhance the efficiency of energy policies. Incorporating gender perspectives in energy projects, policy and planning is critical in ensuring the effectiveness not just of energy programmes and policies, but of all development activities that involve energy use. Low-carbon, renewable and energy-efficient technologies can make a dramatic improvement to women’s lives, while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Off-grid renewable energy can be used to provide electricity in rural communities, for agricultural production and processing machinery, water pumps, communications technologies, and other equipment. This frees up women’s time, expands their access to information and provides new employment and business opportunities. Examples of these technologies include solar photovoltaic panels, small hydro systems, small-scale wind turbines, and biogas digesters fuelled by local animal wastes.
Gender and the International Action Framework on Climate Change
In December 2015 international negotiators will meet in Paris to carve out a new climate change agreement for tackling global warming. Curbing carbon emissions is the most critical item on the list, but in recent years gender has worked its way up the agenda. In 2012, it became a permanent feature on UN climate conventions. Most bodies that support and fund climate change action, such as the Global Environment Facility, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the Adaptation Fund now have gender strategies and seek to streamline gender across their services.
- Interview COP19: Aira Kalela, Senior advicer, Finland
Pushing for gender provisions at the global level is crucial for boosting gender-responsive climate change at the national level. The examples above illustrate that there are plenty of opportunities for such win-win strategies, but past experiences indicate that political support for gender strategies is not easily cemented. Global endorsement of the need for gender-responsive climate change strategies would provide much-needed support for gender champions to take such initiatives forward in their national parliaments. It would also lead donors and aid agencies to make more financial support available for relevant initiatives.
- Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
“It is critical that that new economy not only re-establish the relationship between man and nature, which has been thoroughly not respected, but it also re-establishes the balance that is needed between the genders.”
- Ask your participants how many women MPs are currently in parliament. Is there a gender or women’s group or caucus? In general, is gender high on the parliament’s agenda?
- Discuss why it is important to consider gender in policy-making on climate change and energy. Can your participants think of relevant examples from their country or constituency? What are some of the main issues that should be (better) addressed?
- Are your participants aware of gender-specific legislation or action on climate change or energy? Have they been part of any relevant initiatives?
- Moving forward, what are some of the concrete steps MPs could take to promote gender-responsive action on climate change and energy? Who are the main stakeholders to involve in this conversation? What other sources of support could they draw on (senior MPs, government officials, academics, civil society organisations, …).
Call for the collection and use of gender-segregated data in parliamentary research and policy-making. Without accurate information on how women and girls are being affected by climate change and energy shortages, appropriate policies cannot be developed and gender biases in policy-making will persist. Many parliaments already have research services that assess impacts on groups from various social, economic or ethnic background; in such cases, accommodating gender should be relatively straightforward. Where possible, you may go a step further and commission studies or assessments dedicated specifically to climate change and gender, with a view to developing appropriate policy responses.
ENERGIA, a network that advocates for a gender approach to energy issues in policy and programming, has conducted ‘gender audits’ to identify and analyse the factors that hinder efforts to mainstream gender in energy policy. The gender audits all provide in-depth analysis of energy planning, budgets, the institutional capacity of ministries to implement gender-mainstreaming strategies, the links between gender, energy and the national objectives for poverty reduction strategies and meeting the MDGs. The audits identify the specific ways in which gender issues are, or are not, addressed and critical gender gaps in existing national energy policy formulation and implementation. Validation workshops help to reach consensus and ownership of the audit findings within the energy ministries, discuss future recommendations and agree on actions with specific targets and time frames that are needed to engender the policies. The reports for India, Senegal, Kenya and Botswana are available on the Energia website.
Parliamentary questions allow you to explore what policies are currently in place. It also puts some pressure on the relevant departments and government officials to take action.
The following sample questions may be helpful, but please note that these may need to be contextualized:
- Do existing policies on climate change and energy address the needs of women and girls? If so, what gender provisions are in place?
- What research has been done on the linkages between climate change and gender?
- How are existing adaptation projects catering for women and girls? Are gender-specific initiatives being carried out?
- What budget(s), if any, have been set aside for gender-responsive action?
Reach out to experts, civil society groups and aid agencies to identify the most pressing issues regarding gender and climate change. What do they consider to be the most urgent needs? What opportunities for gender-responsive adaptation exist? Are there successful pilot projects that could be replicated?
Video interview, Mr Saroj Dash, Regional Technical Coordinator on Climate Change for Concern Worldwide:
“The impact of climate change is being felt, and the stress on water and energy resources is imposing a direct burden on women in particular. […] Women as leaders have been taking this issue to the forefront and have been able to show results, especially in terms of the impact in local communities. They are becoming the future leaders. We have seen many women take up such positions in Africa and Asia and various other regions, which has been an inspiration to the world. If we look at future adaptation efforts, this is one of the core issues we need to address.”
To substantially impact policy-making processes, parliamentarians need to build political support. You can advocate for gender-responsive policy-making on climate change by inviting gender experts to speak in the relevant committees or (if possible) in plenary session. You can also try to connect with civil society organizations to leverage public support, which in turn will encourage parliamentarians to act on this issue.
Finally, with the support of your peers you can submit policy recommendations for the relevant committee(s) to discuss. Such recommendations, when adopted by the plenary, can be put to the government as a strong parliamentary push for more sustained policy action on the subject. Even when not adopted, such recommendations can generate discussion and debate that may lead others to take up the issue, or that may uncover alternative entry points for parliamentary and political action.
During a workshop organized by UNDP and Climate Parliament at the Pan-African Parliament, MPs adopted a set of policy recommendations for renewable energy development among Pan-African Parliament states:
- Mainstream renewable energy in short and long-term national developments plans and strategies;
- Identify barriers to the participation of women and girls in designing, formulating, training and capacity development on RE.
- To build gender sensitive policy frameworks that can deliver on the particular energy needs of women and girls.
- Put in place policies that regulate the renewable energy industry and promote its further development, so that Africa is better positioned to transition to sustainable energy and meet the continent’s growing energy needs;
- Adopt renewable energy as a strategic choice and develop comprehensive programs for renewable energy industries and markets.
- Encourage the Members of Parliament to urge their respective governments to commit a minimum of 1% of the national budget to the promotion of renewable energy.
This resource guide aims to inform practitioners and policy makers of the linkages between gender equality and climate change and their importance in relation to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. It makes the case for why it is necessary to include women’s voices, needs and expertise in climate change policy and programming, and demonstrates how women’s contributions can strengthen the effectiveness of climate change measures.
The primary goal of the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) is to ensure that climate change policies, decision-making, and initiatives at the global, regional, and national levels are gender responsive.
The GCCA works towards four complementary objectives:
• Integrate a gender perspective into policy and decision making in order to ensure international mandates and other legal instruments on gender equality are fully implemented.
• Ensure that financing mechanisms on mitigation and adaptation address the needs of poor women and men equitably.
• Build capacity at all levels to design and implement gender-responsive climate change policies, strategies and programmes.
• Develop, compile, and share practical tools, information, and methodologies to facilitate the integration of gender into policy and programming.
Training packages have been designed by ENERGIA for the training of selected practitioners (policy makers, planners and project implementers, NGOs, private sector and academia) to increase their understanding of gender and energy inter-relationships and their capacity to bring gender aspects of energy into the policy and project planning.
This publication shares IUCN's experiences in developing the world's first gender-responsive national strategies and roadmaps on climate change. Different sections outline steps and elements of creating a climate change gender action plan (ccGAP) or REDD+ roadmap; present principles behind the strategies and what has worked best; detail case studies highlighting sectors that demonstrate the gender dimensions of climate change in different national contexts; and provide recommendations on how to move forward.
This report presents recommendations based on four broad assertions:
1) gender-sensitizing procedures and mechanisms will ensure that climate change finance mechanisms, procedures and outcomes impact women and men more equitably;
2) mainstreaming gender will maximize the effectivenessand efficiency of climate change responses and protect women’s social reproductive roles and care activities in the face of climate change impacts and activities;
3) empowering women will ensure that climate change finance policy choices reflect both women’s and men’s interests and enable women to fully participate in all aspects of decision making; and
4) addressing market and non-market mechanisms will facilitate women’s economic and social empowerment by promoting a deeper understanding of the gender differentiated impacts of private- and public-sector climate change finance mechanisms and their impacts on gender equality.