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'We must look at gender equality and try to appreciate the fact that genders are affected by climate change differently'

  • Published at 07:06 pm February 24th, 2019
Climate Change
Photo: Shekhar Mondal

Baizid Haque Joarder speaks to Edith Ofwona Adera, Senior Program Specialist (Agriculture and Environment) from the International Development Research Centre, Kenya about gender issues relating to climate change at the Gobeshona Conference held in Dhaka, in January 2019

You touched upon the problems of social equity and equality to combat and to facilitate gender-responsive policies in your presentation. How far do you think we are, as a developing country and a society that is patriarchal, in tackling the issues that come from the lack of said policies?

I would say that we are a bit far in the sense that not much is being done in understanding the underlying causes of inequality or that of vulnerability to climate change and unpacking that. Secondly, we are yet to begin to fully understand those differences and the ways to address them especially within the context of the strategies that we have developed and also the plans we have put in place thus far. And this, of course, has a lot to do with, as you have rightly mentioned, the fact that a lot of the communities are very patriarchal. So you have certain roles, responsibilities, cultures and norms that are entrenched in these communities. We must look at gender equality and try to appreciate the fact that genders are affected by climate change differently, try to understand the differences, and working on addressing the differences from that perspective.      

What do you think would help in eradicating the problem?

A point that I would like to raise is of cooperation between men, women and communities to address climate change so that it does not come across that we are favouring one group over the other. It must be ensured that we are able to appreciate the fact that people are affected differently, with needs that are different, and the responses that one would require would be different in order to make communities more resilient. This can be possible only through cooperation.   

In our research we have found some level of transformation where you find, for example, when men migrate, women tend to find themselves playing the roles of men. On the other hand, we have also found cases where the men are marginalised. There are parts of Asia where men do not have access to land. The idea is for one to consider how the impacts/needs are different and what we can do to bring both the groups on par in terms of development. 

Do you believe keeping sex-desegregated data will help countries in fighting climate change? 

Very few countries are keeping sex-desegregated data which would allow you to do the analysis that would help in better understanding the differences. Therefore, once you analyse the data, you can then bring it to the fore while planning on what to do in tackling the differences. I believe if you can incorporate the gender-desegregated aspects within our national statistical framework, especially when comes to climate change, you begin to get the picture of what the different impacts and needs are, and therefore, how to respond better.    

There is a lack of mention of women in the Paris Agreement, particularly in important sectors such as mitigation and technology. How do we combat such blatant absence?

The gender quotient is lacking in technology and mitigation in the Paris Agreement, and from what I understand, the most important way for governments to deal with this is considering the gender aspects. It may not be enough to just keep the considerations in mind while strategising but also providing appropriate budget for them. When you do not have the necessary budget to accompany your action plan, especially where there is a strong gender lens, then you will not be able to see results. 

I also think that since the gender-analysis is not usually in the fore, because of the lack of gender-desegregated data, we are not able to display what the differences are which makes it even harder to change people's consciousness.   

I think if we can provide the rigorous analysis and provide the information, it becomes easier for people to understand what the issues are, and see how those can be incorporated in planning and implementation processes, but more importantly, in monitoring and evaluation. In the end of the day, it is about knowing where your country stands when it comes to gender issues and how well are we doing in terms of ensuring social equality and equity.        

Do you think we are making progress in terms of tackling gender issues relating to climate change? 

It is definitely getting better and a very good example is that it is a standing agenda within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, which was not the case in the past. Secondly, we have a gender action plan which serves as a framework with which, governments can act. The framework exists, but it needs to be accompanied by commitment from national level and resources to actually translate it into action.