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Gender and Climate Change
Anju Sharma and Achala Chandani 11 July 2012
european capacity building initiative
european capacity building initiative
initiative européenne de renforcement des capacités
for sustained capacity building in support of international climate change negotiations
pour un renforcement durable des capacités en appui aux négociations internationales
sur les changements climatiques
 Women have a key role in ensuring energy supply and security at
 Both women and men are affected by climate change, but existing
inequalities determine who is most affected. Women tend to have
limited access to (physical, financial, human, social, natural
capital) assets such as land, health care, food, education, training,
knowledge, credit, agricultural inputs, technology, and decisionmaking power. Climate change exacerbates the condition of
women, and their ability to deal with it.
 Men and women have different needs and interests in mitigation
and adaptation efforts. For instance, every aspect of technological
intervention including needs, information, enabling environments,
capacity building and technology transfer has a gender component
which will affect its final outcome.
 Women bring unique perspectives and knowledge essential for
climate change solutions.
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the household level; carbon capture, fixing or sequestration
through forestry/ REDD; and sustainable consumption.
•70% of those who live on less than a dollar a day are women, as are
75% of the illiterate adults in the world.
During the Bangladesh cyclone of 1991, early warning signals did not
reach large numbers of women because information was passed through
market places, to which many women do not have easy access. Of the
140,000 people who died, 90% were women.
Thousands of women technicians have been trained by Grameen Shakti
in Bangladesh, to install, manage and repair solar home systems.
They have been instrumental in the rapid take-up of solar power
systems in the country.
A World Bank review of 121 rural water supply projects found that
women’s participation was among the variables strongly associated
with project effectiveness. Failure to take gender differences and
inequalities into account could result in failed projects.
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In developing countries, women produce 60-80% of the food despite
their lack of access to farmland, low level of technological
training and knowledge, and lack of financial assistance. An
analysis of credit schemes in five African countries found that
women received less than 10% of the credit awarded to male
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Yet, women are under-represented in global and
national climate-related planning and decisionmaking processes, limiting their capacity to
engage in political decisions and eventually in
european capacity building initiative
Agenda 21 (United Nations
Conference on Environment and
Development, 1992); the World
Conference on Human Rights
(1993); the Beijing Platform
for Action (4th World
Conference on Women, 1995); the
Convention on the
Elimination of All
Forms of
Against Women(CEDAW)
But 187 out of the 195 UNFCCC
Parties have signed the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW), adopted in 1979.
An Optional Protocol to CEDAW,
adopted in December 1999,
establishes procedures whereby
women may file complaints
requesting investigation of violations
of rights.
the Millennium Declaration
(2000); the Johannesburg Plan
of Implementation (World Summit
on Sustainable Development
(WSSD), 2002); the Convention
on Biological Diversity (CBD);
the UN Convention to Combat
Desertification (UNCCD); and
the Hyogo Framework for Action
(World Conference on Disaster
Reduction, 2005)
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The UNFCCC and the
Kyoto Protocol had no
specific language related to
The High Court of Tanzania used CEDAW provisions to overrule elements of
customary law which denied women the right to inherit and sell land
UNCCD established an early link between the
environmental situation, gender equality and
social participation. However, gender and the
role of women is frequently viewed as no more
than rhetoric, with a vacuum in terms of
concrete activities – perhaps as a result of
limited capacity.
CBD appointed a gender focal point in 2008,
and adopted a Gender Plan of Action in 2008,
for the 2008-2012 period. One of the main
results will be the development of a Gender
and Biodiversity Web Portal and the design
and dissemination of guidelines to incorporate
gender considerations into the National
Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans
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CBD and the UNCCD are
relatively more advanced in the
mainstreaming of equality and
equity considerations.
Addressing gender issues at the global level
Calling for a focus on gender in negotiated text and processes is important, but has limited
impact. It is much more effective if global institutions and mechanisms are designed to serve
the needs of the most vulnerable, especially women.
Design institutions, policies and processes in a way that they prioritise social impacts,
and community/ household/ individual responses.
Avoid centralised, fragmented funding that cannot be accessed by vulnerable groups.
Beware the Big Bias – on biophysical impacts, and on mitigation activities (large scale,
capital intensive).
Regulate the private sector’s social impact. The private sector tends to ignore the
impacts of its actions on women’s land-use options, incomes and livelihoods, food
affordability and the related cost of living including the price of land.
Safeguard against negative impacts of mechanisms such as carbon trading and REDD on
Guard development finance: Gender equality interventions in many poor developing
countries have been highly dependent on aid and public finance streams.
european capacity building initiative
Ensure adequate representation of women in the negotiations and in different bodies of
Opportunities for the Green Climate Fund
•Focus on reducing vulnerability at the community, household and individual
•Coherence and simplicity in access, by government and non-government actors
•Direct access, to promote national/sub-national/stakeholder ownership
•Additionality to development finance
•Mainstreaming with existing development processes and gender polices
•A redress or appeals mechanism accessible by all stakeholders, including women
•Safeguards for the private sector, to account for and mitigate the negative impacts
of market actions on women’s access to resources such as land, forests and
•Capacity building at all levels, taking into account gender-based differences in
access to information and ensuring balanced representation of men and women
•Ensure that at least 50% of the funds are for adaptation, and mitigation activities
enhance women’s livelihoods and rights.
•Regular monitoring to ensure that gender objectives are being met
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Integrate a gender perspective from the outset, with a gender policy and gender
implementation plan of action to guide its policies, procedures and structures.
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National level action: the case of Nepal
Research method
• Research provides an analysis of the extent to which gender differences are taken
into account in the policies and plans for adaptation to climate change in Nepal.
The study was carried out in three stages, a desk study, field visits, and data
analysis. Data collection was both field and desk-based. Information gathered from
interviews with experts working on gender and climate change in Nepal along with
published documents also informed the research.
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Initial literature review
In Nepal, women constitute the majority of the poor and are therefore amongst the
most vulnerable to climate change impacts (UNDP Nepal 2009).
Societies, characterised by patriarchal values such as Nepal often only rely on the
privileged half of society in decision making (Wydra et al 2010). Generally women’s
participation is very low in the formulation of laws and policies. Women have no voice
and are underrepresented, at the community, local, national and in the international
negotiations on climate change (Denton 2002).
european capacity building initiative
Value of mainstreaming gender into policy development
Gender mainstreaming may increase the efficiency of responses to climate change
(Margaret Skutsch (2002).
If gender considerations are not included, progress towards gender equity may be
threatened (in Hemmati and Rohr 2009).
Gender mainstreaming is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve more equitable,
sustainable and effective programmes and policies.
UN Women (OSAGI 2001) explains that gender mainstreaming does not
necessarily entail developing separate women’s projects within work
programmes, or women’s components within existing activities. It requires that
attention is given to gender perspectives as an integral part of all activities across all
policies and programmes.
Mainstreaming does not mean that targeted activities to support women are no
longer necessary. Women-specific projects continue to play an important role in
promoting gender equality.
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Gender in Nepal laws and policies
Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007: reaffirms the principle of equity and gender
equality and prohibits all forms of discrimination based on gender (section 13).
Some progressive precedents set by the Supreme Court of Nepal.
Local Self Governing Act, 1999: ( the law which governs decentralisation in Nepal)
requires participatory governance approaches for governing, planning and
implementation at the local level including the participation of women in these
Nepal’s Climate Change Policy 2011: recognises that there are differential impacts of
climate change on communities. It acknowledges that the impact of climate change is
greater in poor, developing, landlocked communities and on village women.
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Nepal NAPA
Submitted in September 2010. This plan outlines Nepal’s urgent and immediate
adaptation priorities and needs.
Includes gender as a cross cutting theme as recommended in the UNFCCC
guidelines. It contains a gender impact analysis of differentiated climate change effects
which were said to be collected through consultation processes including transect
Has undertaken a study of the implications of observed climate change effects for
men and women. This analysis concluded that men and women are impacted
differently by climate change due to their societal roles and existing socio-political
Recommends that these findings be taken into consideration in the development of
national adaptation strategies and in the design of adaptation interventions.
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Thematic working groups
The development of the NAPA also comprised a Thematic Working Group (TWG)
process to address the different sectoral aspects of climate change. Each group
assessed the gender implications for their theme.
The Water and Energy TWG: The quantity, quality and access to water resources
could add to women’s workloads resulting in negative impacts on their health.
Agriculture and Food Security TWG: A decline in agricultural yields leading to an
increase in migration to urban areas and a subsequent increase in rural women’s
workload were the main findings.
– Due to shortage of food, women consume less food causing malnutrition and ill
– In addition, because women have less access to credit, markets, land and
agricultural extension services they are more vulnerable to adverse climate effects
on agriculture.
Forests and Biodiversity TWG: women and marginalised communities depend on
forests for their livelihoods.
– The reduction in the availability of forest products is likely to decrease their income
and thereby their adaptive capacity.
The Urban Settlement and Infrastructure TWG: Water scarcity was one of the
defining problems of climate change. Women will spend more time collecting water.
– Migration and temporary displacement due to flash floods pose a risk to women’s
security as they are more likely to be the victims of sexual violence in times of
– It also found out that since there is inadequate incorporation of gender related
issues and women’s needs in urban planning and policies, these mechanisms are
likely to undermine women’s adaptation options.
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Public Health TWG: Because of socially constructed roles, more women than men die
or get injured from climate related health hazards.
– At household level women are responsible for providing all care for children, sick,
disabled and the elderly.
– Respiratory disorders, allergy problems, asthma and other respiratory diseases are
more common in women than in men. Therefore, an increased workload as a result
of climate change and the resultant health problems for communities, will have a
greater impact on women.
The Climate Induced Disasters TWG: women are more vulnerable to climate induced
disasters (CID) since they have lesser access to early warning systems and fewer
survival skills.
– In post disaster temporary settlements women are vulnerable to sexual violence.
– They are excluded from disaster recovery decision-making in policies and
– In addition, food scarcity after CIDs leave women with fewer options for food, and
they often eat less causing negative impacts in their health.
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LAPA process
The preparation of the NAPA is carried out through a participatory and bottom-up
process so that local communities’ needs and concerns are taken into account
when identifying adaptation priorities (Ministry of Environment, Government of
Nepal 2010).
To facilitate this participatory approach in Nepal, Local Adaptation Plan of Action
(LAPAs) were developed. Preparation began in mid 2010.
– They are devised at the local level with participation of local communities and
organisations to identify local adaptation needs and devise appropriate
adaptation responses.
– Four directive principles guide their development: a bottom up approach,
inclusive, responsive and flexible process. The planning units for LAPAs are
Village Development Committees (VDC) and Municipalities.
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Even though gender analysis is mentioned in the NAPA document, none of the nine
prioritised project profiles mention gender.
No authorities that deal with women’s issues such as the Ministry of Women,
Children and Social Welfare, or the Women’s Commission were consulted or
included in the NAPA process
The gender expert was not fully involved in the overall NAPA process despite
being itsgender consultant. (Hired for three months at the end of the process and that
the vulnerability assessment she made was totally based on a literature review).
Thematic Working Groups for Nepal’s NAPA process are very technocratic male
dominated groups. There were no female TWG Coordinators and only two women
TWG facilitators among the six.
‘many projects incorporate vulnerable groups’ as an excuse to why there are no
gender specific projects included in any of the NAPA’s nine prioritised projects
profiles .
A good point of departure in terms of considering gender, but this was not carried out.
Recognition at the policy level is an achievement, its translation to implementation
remains problematic.
There is adequate understanding of gender, poverty and vulnerability in relation
to climate change in Nepal, there has been insufficient focus on the incorporation
of this analysis into the development of programmes.
While this study is limited to the case of Nepal, this lack of awareness, translated
into weak implementation is applicable in many other national contexts.
european capacity building initiative