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10 things to know: Gender equality and achieving climate goals

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Although climate change and poverty are increasingly recognised as interlinked global problems, responses often focus on their scientific and economic dimensions only. This research study highlights the advantages and challenges of pursuing climate compatible development, i.e. inclusive green growth, from a gender perspective, pulling in evidence from projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The field work focused particularly on urban environments, as there is a relative paucity of data from cities, compared to rural areas.

While international frameworks are gradually becoming more aware of gender issues, all too often gender is simply “added” to existing policies. Women’s views, needs and participation are frequently excluded from climate change responses and development initiatives. Moreover women are often perceived as victims with little consideration for the contribution and leadership they could provide in adaptation and mitigation efforts.

A comparative study of gender approaches in climate compatible development initiatives in Peru, Kenya and India asked:

  • What does a gender-sensitive approach to climate compatible development mean in different urban contexts?
  • What is the evidence of the relevance of gender-sensitive programming in climate compatible development to promote and achieve people’s empowerment?
  • What socio-economic, political and cultural factors constrain or favour gender-sensitive approaches in the context of climate compatible development?
  • Does a gender-sensitive approach enable better climate compatible development outcomes and if so, how?

The field work was carried out by a mixed-sex, cross-cultural research team at Practical Action Consulting and the results were synthesised by Practical Action and CDKN. They concluded:

1.       Gender sensitive approaches recognise people’s different needs: when climate vulnerability assessments take gender aspects into account, they lead to climate adaptation actions which are better designed because they are based on a more comprehensive understanding of community needs.

2.       Gender sensitive approaches do lead to more sustainable climate and development outcomes: the study finds evidence from programmes in Peru and India that initiatives with higher women’s involvement tend to be better organised.  Initiatives which have been designed with women’s – as well as men’s – needs in mind deliver results which are more comprehensive and long-lasting.

3.       Location matters: needs differ in urban areas and so do gender approaches.

4.       Vulnerability to urban climate risks is exacerbated by everyday gender inequalities.

5.       A gender approach should go beyond just women’s ‘needs’ and address power imbalances and unequal decision-making. If promoting women’s participation in climate compatible development is limited to a technical level such as provision and access to basic services, then this is not enough to transform unjust power relations, which means that a fundamental opportunity for women’s development may be overlooked.

6.  Promoting gender equality must be an explicit goal at the start of any project: otherwise, the design and implementation may not only ignore differences between men’s and women’s vulnerabilities and capacities, but also run the risk of perpetuating gender inequalities.

7. When projects don’t use a gender approach, participatory processes can still ‘save the day’. In the absence of an explicit gender-based approach, the involvement of team members with gender expertise can, even in an unplanned manner, lead to successful – if limited – outcomes in terms of gender equality.

8. The drivers for gender-sensitive climate compatible development are: commitment, policy and skills. Tried and tested approaches from the field and from national country experience demonstrate how these may be achieved.

9. There’s still a long way to go: there are many political and institutional, economic and cultural obstacles which prevent transformative climate compatible development from occurring.

10. Good monitoring, evaluation and follow-up of gender outcomes is vital.

Download the reports here

Read the synthesis report in full:

10 things to know: Gender equality and achieving climate goals

Read the reports on how gender-based approaches enhanced people’s equality and overall results for climate compatible development:

How do gender approaches improve climate compatible development? Lessons from India (policy brief)

Gender approaches in climate compatible development: Lessons from India (full technical report)

How do gender approaches improve climate compatible development? Lessons from Kenya (policy brief)

Gender approaches in climate compatible development: Lessons from Kenya (full technical report)

How do gender approaches improve climate compatible development? Lessons from Peru (policy brief)

¿De qué manera los enfoques de género fortalecen el desarrollo compatible con el clima? Lecciones desde Perú (documento de politica)

Gender approaches in climate compatible development: Lessons from Peru (full technical report)

Enfoques de género en el desarrollo compatible con el clima: Lecciones de Perú (reporte técnico)