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December 2012 | Vol. 6, No. 3
Front and Center: Mainstreaming Gender in Climate Change Responses
by Irish-fe N. Aguilar1 A fishing village in Siem Reap builds its houses on high stilts to adapt to the rising water level of the river during wet season. In another village where farming is the main source of livelihood, floods have forced some members of the community to migrate in search of better income options. While floods are common occurrences in Siem Reap during the wet season, the increase in frequency, duration, and intensity of rains brought by climate change make it more difficult for these communities to cope, given their geographical location and economic conditions2. For women living in these communities, the implications are significantly worse as their ability to respond is determined by their gender roles. With limited skills, access to basic services, and control over resources, often the only coping strategy available to women is to expand their workloads and increase their work hours. Women take on additional domestic chores and income-generating activities to respond to the loss of income and property, and illnesses in the family brought by severe changes in weather conditions. However, opportunities exist to address this situation and empower local communities, especially women, to become more resilient to the impact of climate change. For example, the women from the rice and vegetable community in Siem Reap have learned to adapt to climate change by planting short-term seeds that produce before the flood season begins. When crop losses become inevitable due to floods, most women utilized loan facilities from local cooperatives to enable them to buy new seeds and farm animals. These underscore the importance of institutionalizing gender measures in climate change interventions to build women’s resilience to natural hazards and increase their chances at survival. At the program and project level, most of the measures adopted to respond to climate change focus on technical aspects (i.e., decreasing carbon emission and preserving carbon sinks), and provide little consideration to the human and social aspects of the phenomenon. This means that the programs and projects that are
Social Development Officer (Gender and Development), Poverty Reduction Gender and Social Development (RSGS), Regional and Sustainable Development Department (RSDD). 2 Based on field visits in Kampong Pluk Commune and Khnart Commune in Siem Reap conducted as part of the Training Course on Mainstreaming Gender in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, International Institute for Rural Reconstruction, Siem Reap, 19-30 March 2012.
being implemented in local communities have no explicit gender design measures, and fail to recognize women’s needs and to directly benefit them. To avoid this, gender analysis should be at the forefront in designing any program or project addressing climate change. This can be done by integrating gender analysis to existing climate change adaptation approaches, methods and tools (e.g. Vulnerability to Resilience, Community-Based Risk Screening Tool: Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRiSTAL), Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis, Climate Smart Disaster Risk Management, Ecosystem-based Adaptation and Local Adaptive Capacity Framework) to ensure that programs and projects are gender-responsive. For example, CRiSTAL3 is a tool that integrates risk reduction and climate change adaptation into community-level projects. It collects information on the climate related-hazards in the community; the livelihood resources affected by these climate hazards; and the importance of these livelihood resources in implementing community coping strategies. However, it fails to take into consideration gender differences in its approach. Integrating gender tools (i.e. gathering sexdisaggregated data, examining the gender-division of labor; and determining who has access and control over community resources) will enable project managers to better understand how men and women in the community are differently affected by climate change and, as a result, design and implement measures that would improve both men and women’s adaptive capacity and reduce their vulnerability. While gender-specific interventions may vary depending on the nature of the project and the sector focus, building women’s skills and providing them with access to resources help ensure that adaptation measures implemented in the community are gender-responsive. In the agriculture sector where women usually manage small farms, providing women with access to crop insurance, short-term crops, and rice banks will help them better respond to production losses brought about by climate change. In the same manner, gender measures can be incorporated in mitigation interventions such as the Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degeneration (REDD)4 by building the capacity of women to participate effectively in REDD negotiations and processes, and recognizing their role in natural resources management. A community forestry REDD project implemented in Oddar Meanchay by Pact, an international NGO, has taken on this approach by supporting (i) gender equity in participation and decision-making, (ii) forest tenure and genderdifferentiated access to forest resources, and (iii) knowledge and skills/capacities, and equity in benefit-sharing5.
REDD is a mechanism established to create a monetary value to the carbon stored in forests, and offer incentives to developing countries to reduce emissions from forest lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. 5 The Project involves 13 community forestry groups, comprised of 58 villages, which protect 67,783 hectares of forestland in the Northwestern province of Oddar Meanchey. The Project will be one of the first to use a new methodology and be submitted under both the Voluntary Carbon Standard and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance guidelines. The project is expected to sequester 7.1 million metric tons of CO2 over 30 years.
Last, gender equitable access to technology being developed (e.g. insurance schemes, irrigation systems, and drought resistant seeds) and funds created in response to climate change should be guaranteed to ensure that women are not left out. The mandate of the Green Climate Fund6, for example, includes taking on a gender-sensitive approach and holds the promise that women will directly benefit, and that gender considerations will be included in the fund’s projects. At the policy level, international instruments responding to climate change, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, remain gender blind and fail to consider how climate change can exacerbate gender disparities in the community. In the absence of international instruments that recognize this, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (UN CEDAW) can be used to bring forward gender concerns in specific measures addressing climate change, and to ensure that women are not placed at a greater disadvantage. In summary, while natural hazards brought by climate change puts local communities, especially women, at risk, measures can be taken to build the capacity of these communities and make them more resilient to climate change. These interventions, however, should not be gender-blind. Conducting gender analysis and integrating gender measures at all levels of climate change responses protect women from being placed at a greater disadvantage and ensures that existing gender disparities in the community are not magnified. Further, genderresponsive climate change interventions can become a tool for empowering women, enabling them to become part of the solution to climate change.
The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this paper and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this paper do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology.
http://gcfund.net/home.html. The Green Climate Fund was established at the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC held in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November to 10 December 2010.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?