By Tove Lexén
In the end of this weekend the climate negotiations will be resumed in Katowice. As you surely have been reminded about several times on this blog, the agreements made (or not made) will determine the possibilities to meet the ambitions in the Paris Agreement. In Katowice, the terms in the so called “Paris Rulebook” will be written, and how those terms are written e.g. the distribution of responsibility and what aspects that are highlighted, is absolutely vital. Writing this blog post form the gender angle, I want to highlight the necessity of overreaching inclusivity. So far, the gender inclusion has generally been limited to adaptation programs, and this inclusivity is furthermore lacking in several aspects.
While the last years’ adaptation policies have acknowledged the vitality of gender-aware climate adaptation, that gender inclusion has generally been limited to solely using gender knowledge (often academical) about how to best fit women’s needs in adaptation programs. Many times, incorporation of this kind of knowledge has led to improvement, but as different case studies have shown*, it cannot serve as the only basis for adaption programs. To be truly gender inclusive, women need to be invited and respected throughout the decision-making processes, from preparing materials to implementing policies. On this matter, it is also of absolute significance that solutions are context based, because in lack of such, adaptation programs are less likely to fulfill its intentions. Therefore, academical writings about implementation programs need to be considered in conjunction with local judgements on the matter. Following, some of our recommendations are elaborated below.
To begin with, the Paris Agreement’s preamble pinpoints that climate change is a problem for humankind, and that its solutions should be formed with “respect, promotion, and consideration” to human rights in a broad sense. This broader sense includes the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and women. It is also said that “gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity” should be in focus. Having these words as a coverage for the Paris Agreement, we expect that above statements will trickle down to all parts of the Paris Rulebook. For example, the NDC planning processes, the Technological Framework, and Adaptation Communications should all be guided by this. Also, information based on sex and gender disaggregated data should be used.
Furthermore, Article 7 and its fifth paragraph emphasize the necessity to have country-driven, and gender-sensitive responsive adaptation plans. Moreover, they are also encouraged to be participatory, fully transparent, taking vulnerable groups into consideration, and also let traditional and indigenous knowledge influence the adaptation plans, among other things. It is also said that adaption should be integrated into socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions. In this aspect, we hope and push for that the Parties are honest and ambitious when putting mentioned frame into detail. For instance, the word “participatory” is not, even though it too often is regarded as so, synonymous with inviting some women to sit by the decision-making table without changing the norms system of decision-making. A key point in 7(5) is further that it acknowledges that adaptation should be integrated into other aspects of society, because it is only when gender (and intersectional) analysis is allowed to impact the entire system that something can be changed for real. Additionally, Article 11(2) upholds the necessity for capacity-building and which aspects that are vital to have in mind in such activities. As with Article 7(5), every phrase should be respected and the article should be put in concrete in a righteous and wholesome manner.
Lastly, and as written by Linnea Engström, MP in the European Parliament representing the Swedish Greens, in her proposition from the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (2017/2086(INI)), the gender approach needs to be understood in a nuanced manner. That is to say, the unequal power positions and the vulnerable situations that it puts women in, should indeed make decision-makers provide a special attention to women. However, women’s vulnerability is due to society’s power structures and does not originates from their gender. Women are as capable as men, it is just the structures that locks them out. Accordingly, leaving women out hinder countries to develop and leads to welfare loss. So even for those purely interested in economic gain, women’s inclusivity is for the better. Connecting to above, as gender-inclusivity is also key for successful climate change solutions, it is even more obvious that a prosperous future can only come about if women are invited.
*See for intance: Clement, F. and Karki, E. (n.d.). When Water Security Programmes Seek to Empower Women – A Case Studie From Western Nepal. In: C. Fröhlich, G. Gioli, R. Cremades and H. Myrttinen, (eds), Water Security Across the Gender Divide. [online] New York: Springer International Publishing AG, pp.148-167. Available at: https://books.google.se/books/about/Water_Security_Across_the_Gender_Divide.html?id=CM44DwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y
**With the word women we, PUSH Sweden, refer to everyone defining themselves as such.