Think out of the box on gender and mitigation

14 July 2011 | News story

The linkages between gender and mitigation might be less intuitive than is the case with adaptation, but understanding this relationship is imperative as it offers a unique platform to move away from the notion that women are victims, to an understanding that women are agents of change – capable of significantly strengthening our efforts on climate change.

This was the message of Lorena Aguilar, IUCN Senior Global Gender Adviser to participants at an IUCN Learning Opportunity convened at the 2011 Climate Investment Funds Partnership Forum held in Cape Town South Africa, recently.

“We need to think outside the box when addressing the issue of gender and mitigation,” Aguilar urged. “To do so, however, we have to be creative and establish alliances with new sectors and stakeholders with whom perhaps we have traditionally not engaged or worked with.” Aguilar formed part of a high level panel of speakers that also included senior officials from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Development Program.

Many efforts to mainstream gender have too often been confined to simplistic ad-hoc and short-term technical interventions that have failed to challenge inequitable power structures and therefore also have failed to ensure optimal implementation. Gender disparities remain among the deepest and most pervasive of all inequalities and, in fact, hinder the best of development efforts profoundly.

The event, convened by IUCN and co-hosted by the German government (BMZ) and the Global Gender Climate Alliance (GGCA), therefore sought to provide some insights into how the IUCN Gender Office linked gender and mitigation to enhance implementation on sustainable development at in-country level, emanating from IUCN’s work with governments on national strategies on gender and climate change in Mozambique, Central America, Jordan, Egypt and the Arab League of States.

“We need to highlight the need for the four ‘I’s when discussing gender and climate change: impact, improve (quality of life for women), increase (sustainability), and involve (women),” said Aguilar.

Further examples highlighted by Aguilar included reducing household energy consumption by making efficient appliances available through the establishment of a financial mechanism for women, incorporating gender criteria in processes relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in Central America, and building awareness of transportation and gender issues in Egypt through an innovative transportation system on the Nile River that will be run by women and as suggested by stakeholders at a workshop in Cairo recently.

“The CIF have the opportunity to move from good intentions to solutions,” concluded Aguilar. “At present some countries are already advancing in the mainstreaming of gender in relation to mitigation. These provide excellent opportunities to create synergies among CIF initiatives, mitigation efforts and to advance gender equality.”