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FEATURE: Integrating gender into the implementation of Uganda’s NDC


Today is Gender Day at COP23 in Bonn, where discussions will highlight how gender-responsive climate policy and action can provide economic benefits to communities and create opportunities for raising ambition under national climate plans, while transforming lives, particularly of women and girls. Joselyn Bigirwa from Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA) reports on how gender needs to be included in the NDCs going forwards, particularly in her home country Uganda.

Both climate change and gender are cross cutting issues in Uganda. However, as climate change has an inherent gender dimension, it is essential to consider gender in all climate change interventions, including the implementation of the country’s first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Under the Paris Agreement (1/CP.21), Parties acknowledge “the need for women and men to be equally represented in all aspects of the Convention process and for climate action to respond to the differentiated needs, experiences, priorities and capacities of women and men.” Yet in Uganda, there is not yet a clear process for how this will be achieved.

Although Uganda’s NDC recognises the need to mainstream gender into all climate change issues, there is no specific guidance at the sector level on how to do so. Furthermore, the process of gender mainstreaming is not well understood by the various sectors, and is still considered to be an issue of numbers; i.e. how many women participate in meetings, rather than meaningful participation. Therefore, this capacity gap needs to be addressed so that knowledge and skills barriers at the sector level do not prevent gender-sensitive planning.

In Uganda, all sectors (Ministries) have focal persons on both gender and climate change, to ensure that both are mainstreamed into sectoral plans and activities. Nevertheless, a key barrier is that climate change and gender interventions are often not well funded. The focal persons are responsible for informing the planning and budgeting process, thereby making sure that there is budget set aside for their activities. However, it can be difficult for them to influence the processes that take place at a higher level, and if something is not seen to be a core priority for a Ministry it is unlikely to secure enough of a budget (or indeed one at all).

In addition, it is not possible to consider a gender-sensitive approach to climate change unless specific gender commitments are well embedded in sector priorities and an accountability framework provided. To achieve this, greater engagement and co-ordination needs to take place between the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the Climate Change Department (within the Ministry of Water and the Environment) and the National Planning Authority, which is responsible for co-ordinating overall planning, along with the Ministry of Finance. Government departments will need support in order to understand the gender dimensions of their own policy areas, and how to apply such a framework in practice.

In order to move from talking to action, it is recommended that the Ministry of Gender and the Climate Change Department first carry out a gender and climate change assessment to determine the situation at the local/community level. The results of the assessment can then be used to inform the development of specific climate change gender commitments and corresponding indicators, as well as the budgeting processes to ensure that adequate resources are secured. It is also important that the Ministry of Gender is actively involved in the development of Uganda’s Climate Change Bill so that gender can be mainstreamed at all levels. It is only with the integration of gender that climate change actions under the NDC can be truly gender-sensitive and bring about a transformational and sustainable change in the lives of women and men in Uganda.

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