Green Climate Fund Focuses on Mainstreaming Gender

Avanthi Jayasuriya

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) one of the main financial mechanisms which responds to climate change actions launched its first gender guide to climate finance on the 29th of August, under the title; “Mainstreaming Gender in Green Climate Fund Projects”. The manual underscores the centrality of gender equality and provides guidance on how to include women, girls, men and boys from discriminated vulnerable communities into all aspects of climate finance. The manual is seen as the logical progression of GCF’s operations since its inception by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010.

The GCF was set up with the objective of responding to climate change focusing on low-emission and climate-resilient development by investing in mitigation and adaptation strategies and projects. It is the first of its kind to recognise the importance of gender-responsive climate action and has taken steps to mainstream gender perspectives into its processes.  The GCF recognizes women, girls as well as men and boys as important stakeholders in climate action and stresses on the inclusion of women and girls in the design, development and implementation of projects and activities that are to be financed. Similarly, the Fund works to ensure that gender co-benefits are obtained through the projects they invest in.

Gender and climate change

The adverse impacts of climate change are felt by all sections of population in society. However, the degree to which they are affected differs largely according to the traditional societal roles, social status including socio-economic factors such as poverty, livelihood and access and control over resources, and gender.

  • Poverty: Women constitute the majority of the developing world’s 1.4 billion poor, and faced with greater disadvantage in the face of climate change mainly due to existing economic, political and social inequalities that affect their coping capacity to climate impacts. Lower incomes, financial dependency, less access to credit facilities and lack of access to and control over resources exacerbates the vulnerabilities induced by climate change.
  • Livelihoods: About two-thirds of the female labour force in developing countries, and more than 90 percent in many African countries, are engaged in agricultural work and are largely dependent on natural resources for livelihood. The increasing incidents and severity of climate-induced disasters threatens the loss of livelihoods and income, worsening the social inequalities of women in such contexts. These risks are compounded with the limited coping capacities women experience in the event of such adversities due to limited access to financial and technological resources which diminishes adaptive capacity.
  • Food security: Food production in the developing countries has been the responsibility of women, with women being responsible for 60% to 80% of the food production as well as household water and food security of the household. These tasks are directly affected by the impacts of climate change as seen in four dimensions of food security: food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability.
  • Health: Research indicates that women and children are 14 times more likely to die or be injured during a disaster than men. With increasing threats to their safety, hygiene, and nutrition levels, the comparatively lesser access to medical services women experience render them even more vulnerable. Women’s role as the care giver is also affected by impacts on health and nutrition caused by climate change.

In addition to being disproportionately affected by climate change impacts, women are also faced with constraints in terms of their capacity to participate in decision-making processes. The lack of equal participation in decision-making processes prevent them of opportunities to contribute meaningfully to climate-related planning, policy-making and implementation.

Gender inclusion into climate action

Women play a pivotal role at national and local level especially in the capacities of communal leadership and possessing local knowledge. Therefore, it is important to recognize the higher degree of vulnerabilities and risks encountered by women, and to include gender as a key issue  in the planning and policy-making on climate change. This will in turn  ensure  that the development of climate solutions will be more effective, equitable and sustainable.

Gender inclusion in climate processes is fundamental to ensure that provision of equal opportunity is facilitated for meaningful participation and contribution in the decision-making processes. Additionally, gender skills and experiences can be incorporated in the formulation of actions and plans for adaptation and mitigation activities for developing holistic climate solutions.

Gender mainstreaming in international and local processes

The need to address gender equality and gender rights through the mainstreaming of gender in climate change related activities has been recognized globally with decisions and mandates on the subject being advocated by many international actors. The UNFCCC focuses on gender balance in all its  processes, and the development and implementation of gender responsive climate policy at regional, national and local levels. As a step to addressing issues related to gender Parties to the UNFCCC adopted the Lima Work Programme on Gender (LWPG) at the 20th Conference of Parties (COP20) held in 2014, which aims to advance implementation of existing gender mandates across all areas of the climate negotiations. By decision 18/CP.20 of the LWPG, Parties were called to enhance their efforts to improve the participation of women in the Convention process, promote gender-sensitivity in developing and implementing climate policies, and engage in the development of a two-year work programme on gender. It also clarifies the meaning of the term “gender-responsive climate policy” to improve its effective implementation.

Further, at COP22 held in 2016, it was noted that gender-responsive climate policy still requires further strengthening. Therein, Parties and interested stakeholders were invited to submit their views on formulating a Gender Action Plan (GAP) in order to  further strengthen gender-responsive climate policy in all activities concerning adaptation, mitigation and related means of implementation in the areas of finance, technology development and transfer and capacity-building. Negotiations at COP22 in Marrakech also extended the the time frame of the gender agenda by another three years, and increased action for mainstreaming gender in matters within the UNFCCC while strengthening  obligations for parties to report on national gender specific efforts.

Sri Lanka’s initiatives on gender mainstreaming: country submission to the UNFCCC

As part of its initiative to mainstream gender into climate policy planning  processes, Sri Lanka made a submissions to the UNFCCC in January 2017, in response to the request made for suggestions on priority areas to be included and addressed in the GAP developed under the LWPG. Delineating guiding principles for the development of GAP, the submission emphasised on the need for institutional coherence and dedicated resources for actions and activities on gender mainstreaming, enhancing quality and availability of quantitative and qualitative sex and gender disaggregated data, ensuring a participatory and inclusive gender represented decision–making in the UNFCCC process, as well as recognizing the local and traditional knowledge of grassroots women’s groups and indigenous women and ensuring their effective participation in enhancing gender sensitive climate change policy as well as implementation.

In addition, the submission also highlighted six possible areas of action to be developed in the GAP which included among others; including education and capacity building, monitoring and tracking coherence, data, research and tools, gender balance, means of implementation, and stakeholder engagement.

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