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Research conducted by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) shows that more women are needed in climate change decision making to respond to climate change efficiently. EIGE’s report introduces the first EU indicators in the area of women and environment. On 21 June, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) is expected to adopt conclusions on gender equality and climate change prepared by the Danish Presidency on the basis of EIGE’s report, including the first indicators. It will be an important input to the Rio + 20 international discussion on the green economy and sustainable development.
On 20 June, Heads of State and Governments from all over the world will meet at the Rio + 20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development to renew political commitment for environmental protection, the green economy and sustainable development, and to address implementation gaps and emerging challenges. EIGE – the EU agency on gender equality – is present at the dialogue by presenting its report and conclusions on gender equality and climate change with the first EU indicators in this area.
In its report “Gender Equality and Climate Change” EIGE concludes that even if women are hit harder by the effects of climate change, their perspective and needs are not sufficiently taken into account. Women hold only about one fourth of climate-related decision-making positions in the public sector of the EU Member States. Among the Member States numbers vary from 8% of women in high-level decision-making positions on climate change policies (Italy) to 50% (in Sweden and Finland).
The analysis concludes that despite the leading role of the EU in advancing the international negotiations on climate change, the gender dimension has largely been absent from policy initiatives and debates at the European and international levels. It has a negative impact on the quality of climate change policies and actions. In the European Commission DG Environment, women hold only 25% of high-level positions while in DG Mobility and Transport this figure falls to 13%. It is comparable with the lower levels of women found in national ministries in the transport sector – although the overall data sample within the European Commission is relatively small. EIGE highlights that more women are needed in climate change decision making to respond to climate change efficiently.
The report also shows significant differences in the proportion of women and men graduates in scientific and technological fields. In 2009, women represented only 28% of the graduates in technological fields, 26% in transport services and 18% in engineering trades. In life sciences women represented 62% of graduates. The educational choices of women and men are known to be influenced by gender stereotypes, the absence of female role models in science and engineering, as well as insufficient gender-sensitive career counseling and guidance during upper-secondary education.
Based on the findings of the report, EIGE recommends, among others, the following actions: developing strategies for integrating gender perspective into policy-making process, raising awareness about the relevance of gender issues for climate change and taking actions towards women’s higher enrolment in science and technology-related fields of education.
In the report EIGE introduces the first EU indicators in the area K of Beijing Platform for Action: Women and environment. The Beijing Platform for Action is a document that outlines the international community’s commitment to address 12 areas of critical concern regarding gender equality. The new proposed indicators are an important tool to support successful evidence-based policy making and monitor the effectiveness of actions in the area of gender equality and environment. The indicators measure the involvement of women in decision-making on climate change in the public sector at national, EU and international level and segmentation of education in the fields related to environment and climate change at the EU and Member States level. The conclusions, prepared by the Danish Presidency on the basis of EIGE’s report, including the proposed indicators, are expected to be adopted by The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) meeting 21 June.
“Women and men cause climate change and contribute to the mitigation of the effects in different ways, which means that climate change policies can only deal with climate change effectively, if they systematically consider and respond to the needs and choices of both women and men” says EIGE’s director Virginija Langbakk.
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The European Institute for Gender Equality is the EU competence centre on gender equality. EIGE supports policy makers and all relevant institutions in their efforts to make equality between women and men a reality for all Europeans and beyond, by providing them with specific expertise and comparable and reliable information on gender equality in Europe.