High stakes, great urgency: collecting evidence for gender-just and impactful climate policies 

Mangrove forest governance and shared unpaid care work, recycling and toxic masculinities, traditional gender roles and sustainable energy – these were some of the discussions raised at our UNFCCC intersessional side event on 14 June 2022 at SB56. 

We have just left behind us two weeks of climate negotiations, during the annual UNFCCC “intersessional” in Bonn, also called SB56. It is a high-level policy meeting where decision-makers and other stakeholders come together to prepare their work ahead of the climate negotiations later in the year. We had the pleasure to host, together with CGIAR and Women Environmental Programme (WEP) Nigeria, the event “High stakes, great urgency: collecting evidence for gender-just and impactful climate policies.“ This event allowed participants to understand how gender-just and community-led climate initiatives are enhancing women’s human rights while contributing to mitigation and adaptation policies. Our partners Agnes Mirembe (ARUWE – Uganda), Fatou Ndoye (Enda Graf Sahel – Senegal) and Maria Victoria Bojacá (Enda Colombia – Colombia) showcased their outstanding work in this area.  

The conversation with the panelists embarked the audience on a journey that showed the multiple benefits gained from gender-responsive climate action. It focused on the wellbeing of communities, as well as the strengthening of national policy and the Paris Agreement. It was stressed that gender is not an isolated issue but is directly connected to the many topics discussed during the international climate conferences such as just transition, technology, adaptation, mitigation, science, and finance. 

When assessing progress towards the Paris Agreement and carrying out the Global Stocktake, we must talk about the importance of collecting evidence, and data disaggregated by gender, ethnicity, age, among others.  An intersectional approach is key for greater clarity not only on the impacts and intersecting layers of discrimination but also on the contributions made on the ground. Thus, we must focus the climate discussions further on local and community-based solutions, which should be financed and supported as a priority.  

This year, we are launching, with the support of GIZ, a tool mapping simple but concrete methodology to enable women-led and gender equality organizations to assess the multiple benefits of climate mitigation solutions across the Sustainable Development Goals to advance on the Paris Agreement. The idea is to use this tool to inform policymakers and practitioners of alternative and transformative models of tackling climate change. 

The side event aimed at building bridges and opening new spaces. Local practitioners, researchers, and policymakers were invited to share knowledge and experiences that contribute to the Gender Action Plan (GAP). During our discussions we particularly focused on activities such as GAP A.4 “Strengthen the evidence base and understanding of the differentiated impacts of climate change on men and women and the role of women as agents of change”, and GAP D.4 “Support the collection and consolidation of information and expertise on gender and climate change in sectors and thematic areas”.  

Towards a just, equitable and community-based energy transition 

Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment – ARUWE in Uganda has led an outstanding process in the formation of energy cooperatives in Uganda to ensure a just transition for all. In the male-dominated sector of energy, ARUWE has demonstrated that women’s equal participation in technology deployment brings multiple benefits to their communities. Women have strengthened their skills and knowledge in practical and theoretical construction, installations, operation, maintenance, and management of renewable energy technologies. 

Agnes Mirembe, Executive director of ARUWE, addressed the different challenges that women face in accessing, using, and distributing energy in Uganda and how ARUWE has been able to overcome these challenges. The traditional roles assigned to women within the family and the community, cumulated with increasing deforestation, are forcing them to walk long distances to collect the firewood needed to cook every day. This takes a great deal of time and adds to the burden of household chores and childcare. Using firewood to cook also causes long-lasting respiratory health issues due to smoke inhalation.

Uganda has developed a national strategy towards a just energy transition and ARUWE has contributed to it through the creation of energy cooperatives. Rural and groups that are extra impacted by climate change are trained in the management of renewable and sustainable energy technologies as well as in participating in local policies to advocate for a greater accessibility to technologies via financial mechanisms that enable local manufacturing.  

A sustainable, gender-just urban model based on solidarity economy shifting away from toxic masculinities 

Enda Colombia has developed a holistic urban model that challenges patriarchal patterns of behavior and layers of discrimination with a solidarity economy concept and waste recycling initiatives that contribute to the climate goals of Colombia. This collective project challenges toxic masculinities and addresses gender inequalities based on the double discrimination faced by womxn recyclers. Through a Training of Trainers (ToT) programme on natural resource management and political participation, womxn recyclers strengthen their leadership and gain control over their income. This solution has achieved the official recognition of womxn as social and environmental agents of change, enabling them to exercise their democratic and environmental rights. 

Maria Victoria Bojacá, director of Enda in Bogotá, explained how the organization developed a solidarity and community economy model with a differential and gender focus to address the structural barriers that women recyclers faced, such as monetary and time poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. Women are exposed to abuse and gender violence not only in their houses – where is naturalized – but also in the street, in their workspace.  

Shifting gender power relationships in the mangrove restoration and fishery industry in the Saloum Delta 

ENDA Graf Sahel has contributed with a holistic approach to significantly shifting power relationships and labour division within the Saloum delta fisher’s communities. Their work has had positive results in political leadership for womxn, enabling them to participate in fishing regulation committees and strengthen their advocacy network, the REFEPAS, all along the coasts of Senegal, gaining government attention and leading to a better protection of their activities such as mangrove replanting and reseeding.  

Fatou Ndoye, Programme Coordinator of Enda Graf Sahel, explained how a gender transformative approach has contributed to shifting the power relationships in the fishery sector of the Saloum Delta, and overall, in Senegal. Fisherwomen, who use their ancestral knowledge to reforest and rehabilitate the mangrove share domestic care work responsibilities with their partners. This has given them free time to exercise leadership functions within the fisherfolks’ committees. 

To achieve this co-responsibility, Enda Graf Sahel applied a gender analysis methodology to demonstrate that women bare the highest workload in the household. Through focus groups and surveys among 200 households, a comparison of the daily routines of men and women was conducted. This analysis was an eye-opener for men, leading to a more balanced sharing of tasks and to reduced gender-based violence in the households The goal of Enda Graf Sahel is to measure how strongly fisherwomen contribute to climate mitigation and food security at national level. 

How evidence and research can bring climate justice for rural women 

The CGIAR’s Gender Platform strengthens innovation through methods and tools to improve the quality of global gender research and interventions. These tools help monitor and promote transformation of gender norms, ensure greater gender equity in the context of food systems transformation and achieve gains in women’s empowerment and nutrition. As an example, the CGIAR presented their new hotspot mapping project, which reveals where climate change hits women the hardest.  

Nicoline de Haan, Director of the CGIAR’s Gender Platform, built a connection between research and gender data, as this can play a key role in understanding the gender-differentiated impacts and contributions to climate change. She gave three reasons why research and data are important for gender equality: 

  1. Gender equality is often a sensitive and emotive topic for discussions. While there is evidence of the role of women as agents of change to tackle the climate crisis, we need to use it in a strategic way to reach out different publics. 
  1. Data helps to make the invisible visible, the care economy is unnoticeable to most people, so we need evidence to let them know the reality of women;  
  1. Gender equality, climate change and agriculture transformation are three complex topics, and they are still not well interconnected.  

Although research is a lengthy process, the Director of the CGIAR’s Gender Platform insisted that it is necessary to develop impactful projects and initiatives, especially when led by women and local communities.  

Raising awareness to advance on the Gender Action Plan: lessons learned from Nigeria 

Women Environment Programme, WEP Nigeria, as leading feminist African NGO and active member of the Women and Gender Constituency, conducted an ambitious programme with the Nigerian Ministry of Environment to transpose the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan at national level and adopt in 2020 the “National Action Plan on Gender and Climate Change for Nigeria”. This legal document serves as a guide for states and local governments in mainstreaming gender equality to address climate impacts in Nigeria. 

Priscilla Achakpa,  Founder and Executive Director of WEP has personally led the consultations. She shared how feminist civil society organizations were involved at all levels and which sectors of the National Climate Policy were impacted. The lessons learned from this advocacy process demonstrated that civil society and feminist collectives are willing to organize and work together with the government. Nigeria was the first African country to implement the UNFCCC GAP at the national level and that was internationally recognized. For Priscilla, the greatest success was the articulation between national and local policies.  

The cases presented at this event highlighted the need for and importance of women’s participation in the creation and implementation of mitigation solutions. The local experiences highlighted the message that the high stakes against climate change must take into account the knowledge and community practices and that they must be developed from a gender approach, with data and empirical evidence, which helps to mobilize civil society but also to increase the political will of decision makers.   

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