How Can We Apply The Gender Lens To Climate Change?
Welcome to my weekly Q&A roundup. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions—tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. So each week, I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusivity.
Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
Inclusivity: bringing others along in the journey.
Gender Mainstreaming x Climate Change
I read that climate change disproportionately impacts women. How can governments factor gender into their climate change resolutions?
You’re right. Similar to other societal and economic issues, the climate has a gender dimension, and we would be remiss to ignore it.
Think back to 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the southeastern coast of the US. What do you remember seeing on TV? What do you remember reading about in the news?
Did you hear that two-thirds of jobs lost in the wake of Katrina were women’s jobs? Did you know that, two years post-hurricane, 83% of single mothers were still unable to return to their homes?
That’s the type of gender-lensed data we need if we want to efficiently and effectively mitigate the effects of climate change.
The problem, however, is that most governments don’t collect gender-disaggregated data. And if they don’t collect gender-disaggregated data, they can’t apply the gender lens to policy decisions—some of which are life-or-death.
The Gender Lens Matters If We Want To Combat Climate Change
Only 35% of environmental sector ministries (such as forestry, agriculture, and energy ministries) have a gender point-person. Worse, only 25% of environmental sector ministries have formal gender policies to analyze how their work impacts different genders.
Granted, this lack of gender-based data shouldn’t come as a surprise, as only 13% of countries allocate resources for gender statistics. Given this reality, what should governments do to factor gender into their climate change resolutions?
3 Ways For Policymakers To Gender Mainstream Climate Change
1. Prioritize the collection and dissemination of intersectional gender data to combat climate change.
I say “intersectional gender data'' because it takes the idea of gender data a step further by disaggregating the data by gender PLUS race/ethnicity PLUS age. An intersectional gender lens provides the granularity needed to decipher the true impact of climate change. We can target solutions much more effectively when we understand the nuances of a particular problem.
For instance, we know that women are disproportionately impacted by climate change. We also know that 56% of all US residents near toxic chemical facilities are people of color (even though people of color represent 30% of the US population). I wonder how many of those residents affected by toxic chemical facilities are women and children of color?
Intersectional gender data would let us know.
2. Women are 50% of our planet’s stakeholders, so make sure they have the power to influence climate solutions.
Currently, women hold just 25% of parliamentary seats and represent only 21% of public ministers. Closing these equity gaps in politics will help policymakers craft and implement stronger climate solutions. Why?
Countries with higher levels of women in politics have been the most successful in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. And, women in government positions are more likely to sign international treaties on climate resolutions than their male colleagues.
3. Don’t discount the importance of equitable education.
In a list of the top 100 initiatives to combat climate change, educating girls ranked higher than electric cars, nuclear power, and recycling. In fact, educating girls came in second place due to the compounding nature of its impact.
Each additional year of schooling a girl completes increases her country’s climate resilience by 3.2 points. Considering how women represent 63% of all illiterate adults, we need to ensure girls receive equitable access to education as we build back the global economy post-pandemic.
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© 2021 Katica Roy™, Inc.