UNDP’s Gender Team has been working with the AAP to help African governments mainstream gender in their climate-related development efforts
By Dr. Agnes A Babugura, Regional Gender Expert (UNDP Gender Team)
The impacts of climate change are not gender-neutral, and neither are the right responses. Gender inequalities and different gender roles result in men and women being affected differently by the outcomes of climatic changes. Development and adaptation plans need to recognise this.
In most African societies, women comprise the majority of agricultural workers and users of non-timber forest products, through which labour they are responsible for securing their household’s food, energy and water. This heavy reliance on climate-vulnerable sectors for their livelihoods combined with limited access to education, information, economic opportunities and decision-making power leaves women at greater risk of harm and with fewer alternatives when climatic changes occur. Yet it is important to note that women are not simply climate victims; they are also key agents, leaders and champions of adaptation and mitigation. This is due to their often deep understanding of their direct environment, their experience in managing natural resources such as water, forests, biodiversity and soil, and their active role in climate-sensitive activities such as farming, forestry and fisheries. So despite being the most vulnerable to climatic changes, studies and experiences in the field have shown women’s leadership is key to developing and implementing responses to climate change at not just the community level but national and global levels as well. This input is crucial to achieving a core objective of the AAP: to ensure that national climate change adaptation plans, programmes and funds address the needs of poor women and men equitably.
There is growing recognition of the gendered effects of climate change, but this has not translated to gender concerns being incorporated into climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in Africa at a comparable rate. This uneven and halting progress in incorporating gender issues in climate change is alarming, for it places many well-intentioned development efforts at risk of failing the most vulnerable and leaving behind those who could be champions of adaptation.
Ensuring gender is on the agenda
Gender mainstreaming means the gender-related implications of any planned action, policy or programme are assessed and made an integral part of the activity’s design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. It ensures that women and men benefit equitably from the development process. The Gender Team has been supporting the efforts of AAP countries to integrate gender considerations into their adaptation initiatives to ensure these address the needs of women and men equitably. The demand for this support has grown over the course of the AAP with assistance on mainstreaming gender in national adaptation plans now having been provided in many different ways to 11 countries: Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mauritius, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Congo, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Namibia. The assistance provided may have involved analytical support in knowledge production or peer review of country knowledge products, but the main form of support provided by the Gender Team has been to help run training workshops for UNDP/AAP country office staff, government officials, civil society organisations and local communities.
The Gender Team has also supported research in different countries to examine such topics as the gender dimensions of climate change, the vulnerability of communities and the capacity of different communities to reduce the risk of disasters and climate variability. Examples of the research papers produced include Niger’s ‘Climate risk assessment in the Tabalak Pond’, Senegal’s ‘The linkage between gender-migration and fishery resources management’ and ‘The gendered vulnerability and women’s adaptive capacities in flooding’, Mozambique’s ‘Stock-taking report on women’s participation and representation in climate change, disaster risk reduction and environment activities’ and Namibia’s ‘Gender and climate change vulnerability assessment’. Ongoing research includes gender analysis of climate change policies and related strategic national poverty and development documents in Niger and Congo and of the National Climate Change Response Strategy in Kenya, the aim of which is to develop gender mainstreaming strategies and guidelines.
The Gender Team has also provided analytical support and peer review to UNDP Africa in the production of policy briefs and training modules on gender and climate change. These heavily reviewed knowledge products focused on the linkages between gender and climate change, adaptation, energy, agriculture and food security, and finance. They were drawn on by the Gender Team when developing PowerPoint presentations for workshops organised by AAP national teams.
The Gender Team at work: climate change training workshop in Mauritius
An example of the Gender Team’s training work is found in the workshops we hosted in Mauritius in April 2012.
The low-lying island state of Mauritius is ecologically fragile and particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and numerous impacts of climate change. Issues relating to land, agriculture and food security, energy, water, biodiversity, social consumption patterns and gender are among the challenges that further heighten the country’s vulnerability to climate change. The Government of Mauritius has put in place environment and gender policy frameworks and a National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) incorporating gender perspectives, which have become a key part of the Government’s sustainable development efforts.
The Gender Team sought to advance Mauritius’s gender mainstreaming achievements through two workshops organised with AAP Mauritius and the Ministries of Environment and Sustainable Development, and Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare (MGECDFW). The workshops were attended by a total of 66 participants from the associated Ministries, the National Women’s Council and other women associations, the Social Welfare Division and members of community-based organisations.
The initial workshop was opened by the Honorable Mrs Mireille Martin, Minister of GECDFW.
‘Investing in training that will later trickle down to the grassroots is one way to ensure that appropriate gender-aware responses are disseminated and that our fellow citizens are equipped with necessary knowledge to adapt more easily to climate change,’ said the Minister in her opening speech.
Dr Solange Bandiaky-Badjiand I facilitated the two three-day workshops.The workshops had three objectives: to build knowledge on the links between gender and climate change, and national and local gender vulnerabilities and associated strategies; to build awareness of why a gender equality perspective is essential when discussing climate change-related policies and strategies, and; to demonstrate that women are powerful agents of change, not just helpless victims, by underlining their critical leadership in building knowledge on climate change and community-based adaptation programs.
The training workshop focused on key climate sensitive sectors identified in national policy and NAPA documents, namely agriculture and food security, land, forestry, water and energy. These were then linked to the cross-cutting themes of gender equality and women’s empowerment, community-based adaptation, health and local governance.
After each presentation, participants were given the opportunity to ask questions before being assigned group work. Time was then allocated to share and discuss each group’s points. Participants were given the opportunity to share experiences from within their local and national contexts enabling all present to benefit from individual perspectives.
At the close of the workshop the participants were asked to reflect on what they had learned and to write realistic strategic action plans that they would implement in their workplaces after the workshop. The Gender Team will be following up on these action plans to establish the extent to which they have been implemented.
Participants were also asked for feedback on the workshop. All expressed that the training was informative, the information presented was valuable and that the format and facilitators were effective. Many said such training workshops should be replicated in other countries to share knowledge and create awareness on gender and climate change.
Replicating success: Gender Team training events around the continent
The Gender Team has also hosted training workshops that contextualise and localise gender issues in Burkina Faso, Niger and Congo.
In Burkina Faso, trainings were held in three different regions: Gorom-Gorom, Dédougou and Boulsa. They were attended by a total of 122 participants who were drawn from pools of key stakeholders at the local level such as elected officials, government officials, civil society organisations and representatives from local communities, vulnerable groups and women’s groups. By bringing these individuals together and training them on gender issues the workshops aimed to help them develop an integrated advocacy strategy and to commit to mainstreaming gender and climate change issues in local development plans.
The training in Niamey, Niger gathered 35 representatives from government ministries, peasants’ organisations, research institutions, women’s groups and UNDP. Following the training a series of recommendations were agreed upon. These were to do more local research on the gendered vulnerability of climate change and the vulnerability of peasants with regards to threats to agriculture, to promote gender equality and equity in decision making processes, and to do a gender analysis of national climate change policies.
In Brazzaville in Congo, 86 people from government ministries, women’s groups and the media took part in the training. The key recommendations that emerged from it focused on the need to provide technical support to local communities and women’s groups to devise adaptation projects, and for government climate finance mechanisms to incorporate gender considerations.
As a result of the workshops the AAP and UNDP offices in Niger and Congo have agreed to undertake gender analyses of national climate change and development policies and to develop guidelines on how to mainstream gender in climate change adaptation policies and programmes. A local consultant in each country will be hired to undertake gender policy analysis, which will contribute to creating national expertise on gender and climate change and add strategic value to the work of the local AAP teams.
Reaching out to experts and policy makers across the continent
The Gender Team’s activities are not limited to the provision of national support. We are also working to build the capacity of technical advisors across the continent though training and the production of reference materials.
At a training event held in Nairobi in June, 47 experts from 14 African countries were trained on integrating social and gender considerations in climate change policies and programmes. By strengthening the capacities of regional and national experts who provide technical support to their governments, national expertise and ownership of the gender mainstreaming process is enabled.
The Gender Team is currently drafting two reference materials: a set of guidelines for mainstreaming gender in climate change adaptation policies and programmes and its Reader on Climate Change and Gender in East Africa. The general purpose of the guidelines is to provide a universal step-by-step guide that can be used by all actors involved in climate change policy making, financing, planning and programming. Along with instructions on gender mainstreaming it will also advise on how to develop indicators for gender sensitive monitoring and evaluation.
The Reader will provide evidence based case studies on best practices for mainstreaming gender and women’s empowerment in adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer. It will contribute to fill the research gap on gender and climate change in Africa by documenting women’s roles in climate change adaptation and the best practices and lessons that can be derived from women’s innovative adaptation practices.
Both publications will be released prior to COP18.
To respond effectively to climate-related threats to development, women’s specific vulnerabilities and their leadership potential need to be given a special attention in any associated activity. This is because climatic changes affect men and women differently, so the design and implementation of national climate change strategies, policies and programmes must involve and benefit both women and men equitably.The numerous forms of training and technical support provided by the Gender Team have helped this occur in many AAP countries. Our work has also helped achieve a core objective of the Programme: to highlight the gendered effects of climatic change and to enable responses to incorporate these. As a result of our work and publications the Gender Team has strengthened the effectiveness of the AAP’s efforts to help countries build the capacity to pursue climate resilient paths to development.
With Dr Solange Bandiaky-Badju and Dr Lucy Wanjiru