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FEATURE: Ethiopian ministries pledge greater gender focus in climate action

Robi Redda of CDKN describes how Ethiopian government ministries are aiming for two cross cutting development issues: climate change and gender, to be well integrated across the country’s policies and programmes.

The Government of Ethiopia is committed to being gender-responsive in its policies and programmes. Women fill half of leadership roles in government, for example.

In practical terms, though, government officials recognise that more work is needed to integrate gender and other social aspects fully into development policies. That includes making Ethiopia’s flagship climate change strategy more attuned to women’s needs and talents.

For this reason, the Ministry of Finance’s Climate Resilient Green Economy Facility invited CDKN to assess how well government bodies are tackling discrimination against women and addressing gender issues in their climate change activities.

The Ministry of Finance and CDKN organised a joint workshop on 18-19 December 2019, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to:

• Discuss the findings of the scoping study conducted by CDKN on gender and climate change policy and governance schemes in Ethiopia;
• Provide an opportunity to take stock of ongoing gender analysis, frameworks and action plans that were developed by key government stakeholders; and
• Explore opportunities for a more coordinated and institutionalised mechanism for integrating gender and social inclusion in climate change action in Ethiopia.

More than 20 senior and mid-level officials and experts, representing over eight national ministries and agencies, and three donor institutions, took part.

Workshop participants made the following recommendations for next steps across the government’s portfolio:

Mainstream gender in climate change actions: Addressing gender in policies, plans, programmes and projects cannot simply be a rhetorical commitment. Instead, programmes should assess in detail: how are women, men, girls and boys differently affected by climate change? How might they be differently affected by the climate-compatible development measures proposed? (And also, which specific groups of women, girls, boys and men may have special climate-related and social vulnerabilities due to their age, ethnicity, socioeconomic or marital status, physical and mental abilities, etc.?) How can disadvantage be fully addressed in programme design and implementation, so that no-one is left behind? At present, information on the status of women in Ethiopia is typically too general. To be relevant and to support effective climate programmes, data and analysis should be localised, gender-disaggregated and specific to climate change.

Ensure gender-responsive budgeting: Taking ‘gender mainstreaming’ seriously in climate programmes means ensuring that enough resources are allocated to the task. First, resources are needed to do a full gender analysis of policies, plans, programmes and budgets. Then, sufficient resources are needed to implement gender-smart activities, and to monitor and evaluate outcomes. Workshop participants discussed how tools for tracking climate finance can be used to track the achievement of gender and climate goals – and suggested that these tools should be used adaptively.

Follow through on environmental and social safeguards: Social safeguard policies are important entry point for gender consideration and mainstreaming. Indeed, they are a legal requirement. However, there is the potential to strengthen the way that these safeguards are implemented through the life of climate programmes in Ethiopia (as noted above, follow-through activities must be adequately budgeted for).

Capacity building: Workshop participants agreed that Ethiopian government departments would benefit from more capacity building on undertaking gender analysis to climate plans; applying existing tools and guidelines on gender and climate change; and monitoring and evaluating climate-compatible development outcomes with a gender lens. One specific capacity building activity mentioned was peer learning. CDKN, which has a programme in several countries in the global South focusing on the gender and climate change nexus, was considered particularly well placed to cater to this need.

Coordination and mutual support mechanism: Participants got behind the idea of establishing a formal coordination group that will provide a mutual support mechanism for personnel – across ministries – who are looking to mainstream gender issues in Ethiopia’s climate policies, strategies and programmes. Such a mechanism can raise awareness and strengthen institutional capacities and activities to integrate gender in climate change policies and practice in sectoral bureaus at the federal and regional levels. It was agreed that such a coordination mechanism will be led by the Gender/Women Affairs Directorates within ministries. The next step is a concept note and discussion among ministries to take it forward.

Read the full proceedings of the workshop here: Gender and climate change in Ethiopia – Workshop Report.

Robi Redda, CDKN Ethiopia Country Engagement Lead, and Medhin Fisseha Safeguards Expert, Ministry of Finance opened the workshop. The workshop was facilitated by CDKN’s consultants, LeAlem Mersha and Mulugeta Mengist Ayalew (PhD). The workshop was attended by delegates from the Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy; Ministry of Transport; Agricultural Transformation Agency; the National Meteorological Agency; the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission. Programme coordinators from USAID funded projects in the Industrial Parks, UN Women and the Global Green Growth Institute also took part.

Image: Woman holds sapling, preparing for forest restoration project in Tigray province, Ethiopia – courtesy CIFOR.

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