Gender equitable just transition and economic empowerment

November 20, 2023

Climate change is amongst the key challenges that the planet is facing today. To address climate change effectively, a holistic and cross sectoral approach is needed which focuses on a social, economic an environmental transformation, which builds on just transition. It is vital that this transition is gender responsive, and even better if gender transformative, which could pave the way for inclusive and equitable approaches towards climate action and sustainable development. 

Gender in transformation

A gender-responsive policy or programme can be described as one that considers gender norms, roles and relation, and takes active measures to minimize the adverse impacts of such norms, roles and relations. 

This includes considering elements of gender inequality in action as well as the need for gender equitable approaches. The term gender equity refers to the process of being fair to all genders in a manner that enables processes to ensure that the policy and actions taken will lead to fairness to then. This includes setting up systems that address the historical, and social disadvantages faced by genders, and which prevent them from engaging in different activities on equal terms, or in others on a level playing field.

To this end, gender equitable actions will take into consideration the experiences of individuals, communities to best determine approaches that would befit their needs. And this would not be based on one mold that fits all circumstances. The approach(es) to be applied for determining actions needed and support need to ensure that experiences of those who are the focus of policies and actions are taken into consideration. This will pay the way for better impact through policies and programmes that are developed. 

Gender in just transition

Gender forms a key component in just transition. This includes putting gender just approaches at the center of activities that aim to address adverse climate impacts. Just transition in climate action includes ensuring environmental sustainability, decent work, social inclusion, and economic empowerment which could facilitate poverty eradication. 

The Paris Agreement on climate change focuses on just transition which aims to scale up climate action and provides for the need for countries’ national policies to focus on approaches that align with key aspects of just transition. 

Gender responsive action to climate change integrating just transition would play a key role in creating economic empowerment, as well as building long term climate resilience. And this includes looking into gender equitable policies and actions, as well as equitable approaches and impacts. 

Economic empowerment

Just transition which is gender responsive could involve focusing on job generation which will facilitate vulnerable groups to better engage in decent work, which takes into consideration factors that may prevent individuals from engaging in a certain employment, concerns that are gender-biased, and lead to creating spaces for all to engage in income generation in a manner that is not discriminatory. 

Livelihood generation which is integrated into climate action could be a key focus on contributing to building the long term resilience of communities. This consists of capacity building for climate-friendly transitions; creating jobs that are climate-friendly and facilitating systems that would provide avenues for all to engage in such economic activities; and identifying avenues for shifts in sectoral approaches for scaling up economic impact. 

Gender responsive approaches to capacity building; gender equity in recruitment in key economic sectors related to climate action; as well as opportunities in trainings and education for all will further help bridge the gender gap in different sectors. This will also support better engagement of communities, youth, and vulnerable groups in scaling up climate action and resilience of a country. 

Additionally, empowering climate related entrepreneurship as well as identifying solutions which are gender responsive will be key to pave the way for a better transformation which supports achieving sustainable development and long-term climate resilience of all.  

Note: This article has been published on The Morning as part of the author’s weekly column.

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About the Author
Vositha Wijenayake

Vositha is an attorney-at-law specialising in public international law, with a focus on international environmental law, UN human rights law, refugee law and EU law. She has over a decade of experience in working on climate change, at national and international level. Vositha is a member of the national expert committee on climate change adaptation of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, national expert on vulnerability and adaptation measures for the Third National Communication of Sri Lanka to the UNFCCC for the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, and is a delegate focusing on compliance, adaptation, loss and damage, and gender for the Sri Lankan delegation to the UNFCCC since 2016. She is also a consultant to the UNFCCC national adaptation plans and policy unit, and worked as a country support consultant to the UNDP NAP Global Support Programme. Vositha has an LLM in public international law from University College London, and an LLB from University of London. ‍