Environment and climate change
Relevance of gender in the policy area
Environment is a cross-cutting issue. It encompasses issues relating to:
- water, air and soil quality
- waste management and the use of chemicals
- environmental assessment
- green public procurement, sustainable development and the urban environment
- the environmental impact of industry, land use
- the marine environment and the coast
- nature and biodiversity.
At EU level environment and climate change, although two separate issues, are increasingly associated and interlinked. Environmental change and climate change are increasingly caused by developments taking place at global level, including those relating to demographics, patterns of production and trade, and rapid technological progress. Such developments may offer significant opportunities for economic growth and societal well-being but nevertheless pose challenges and uncertainties for the EU’s economy and society, as well as causing environmental degradation worldwide. Coupled with current wasteful production and consumption systems in the world economy, rising global demand for goods and services and the depletion of resources are increasing the cost of essential raw materials, minerals and energy, generating more pollution and waste, increasing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and making land degradation, deforestation and biodiversity loss worse.
In this context, the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) identified environment as one of 12 critical areas for women. Area K of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), on women and the environment, asserted that ‘women have an essential role to play in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound consumption and production patterns, and approaches to natural resource management’.
Gender is considered particularly relevant in climate protection policies, specifically in the design and implementation of adaptation and mitigation strategies as responses to climate change. When considering climate change from a gender equality perspective, various aspects should be taken into account. One consideration relates to the very low participation of women in decision-making in the sector. Secondly, to be effective climate policies should consider various gender-related aspects of climate change: the impact of climate change on women and men; their different contributions to and perceptions of climate change; and the solutions that women and men are perceived to prefer in terms of mitigation and adaptation. For example, measures intended to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and emissions from transport in the EU have led to increased demand for biofuels, a demand that can be met only by importing the latter from developing countries. This leads to land use changes, which are often gendered since the land used for biofuels production is most likely to be marginal land farmed by women for household subsistence rather than the prime agricultural land farmed by men for export .
Monitoring the gendered outcomes of climate change policy responses is thus important in pinpointing reforms to the climate protection system so that adaptation and mitigation responses promote gender equality, poverty eradication and sustainable development. As the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) notes:
Various research data show that gender differentials with regard to the impacts of climate change mean more casualties among women during extreme weather events and an increased burden from care work. There is also evidence of gender-specific consumption patterns that affect contributions to GHG emissions, and thus to climate change. For example, women spend more time at home due to care duties, and thus depend on domestic heating to a greater extent. For mobility, women depend on access to public transport to a larger degree due to lower levels of car ownership, but also because of their preferences for the use of environmentally-friendly solutions (public transport). Due to their lower average income, women are at greater risk of energy poverty than men, and have fewer options for investing in low-carbon options such as energy efficiency and renewable energies. Perceptions and attitudes towards climate change and climate policy options also vary substantially according to gender. Women are, on average, more concerned about climate change than men.
- women’s under-representation in environment decision-making institutions
- gender differences in adaptation and mitigation strategies
- gender differences in the effects of climate change.
Gender inequalities in the policy area - Main issues
Women’s under-representation in environment and climate change decision-making institutions
Women are still under-represented in climate change decision-making bodies at the national level in EU Member States. In 2011, women held 18.2% of positions at the highest levels in ministries dealing with the environment/climate change, transport and energy policy. At managerial or administrative level, this figure was 27%, while among heads of sectoral departments or divisions it was 27.6% on average. However, the role of women in climate change-related ministries varies considerably across Member States, with Finland and Sweden achieving gender balance at the highest level, with women and men nearly equally represented within ministries, committees, agencies and institutions relevant to climate change. Recent data show that in 2014 women represent the 28% of senior ministers and 22% of junior ministers in the EU-28. At administration level, women represent the 30% of level 1 administrators and 38% of level 2 administrators.
In contrast to the situation at national level in relevant EU directorates-general (DG), in DG Climate Action and DG Energy women play an important role in high-level decision-making (40% of positions in each DG are held by women). However, in DG Environment and DG Mobility and Transport, this percentage is lower (25% and 12.5% respectively). In the committees of the EU responsible for climate change and related issues, women hold on average 39.2% of the positions (51.6% within the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, 36.4% within the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, and 25% within the Committee on Transport and Tourism. In the directorates-general referring to environment and climate change (DG Climate Action, DG Energy, DG Environment and DG Mobility and Transport), as was the case in 2014, one in four commissioners is a woman (DG Mobility and Transport). While the commissioner of DG Environment is a man, as is the head of the cabinet, the members of the cabinet are equally represented by sex (50%). In terms of European Commission administrative positions (Director-General (Directorate-General), Directors (Directorates), women hold around 29% of posts at DG Environment, and 25% at DG Mobility and Transport and DG Climate Action, while 50% at DG Energy. At the European Parliament, 46% of the members of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee are women.
Within the Conference of Parties (COP) delegations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the average proportion of women on the EU Member States’ delegations and the EU delegation over the period 2006 – 2010 was 37.6%, increasing from 24.3% in 1996, to 32.4% at COP6 in 2000, and 40.5% at COP16 in 2010. Recent figures show that women have reached the 45% of National COP delegation in the UNFCCC of the EU-28 Member States.
Globally, under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, the proportions are less balanced: for example, on the executive board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in June 2015, the percentage of women was only 10 (1 out of the 10 members). The proportion of women stood at 15% within the Least Developed Countries Expert Group, at 28% on the Adaptation Fund Board, and at 25% in the Technology Executive Committee. Of the party delegates to the 20th session of the COP and the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), 36% were women.
Gender gaps in energy-related education are also relevant, in that the environment sector requires workers with scientific knowledge and domain-specific expertise in the sector. Women are strongly under-represented in this respect. According to an indicator developed by EIGE, in 2012 women accounted for 53.8% of the total number of graduates in the natural sciences, while in technological domains they accounted for only 28% of graduates. It must be emphasised, however, that not all areas included in the calculation of the indicator are directly linked with energy and/or climate change.
Gender differences in adaptation and mitigation strategies
Climate change is a complex environmental and social issue, affecting a world that is characterised by, and based on, deep-rooted unequal gender relations. This is not just a question of women’s vulnerability and the fact that they generally hold less power and are, therefore, less able to mitigate and cope with climate change. It’s also a question of understanding how women and men relate to one another and how these relationships influence the ways that households, communities, countries and the global community are affected by, and respond to, climate change.
Uncovering these power relations helps us understand why some groups are contributing differently to GHG emissions and why some are affected differently by climate change than others. It also enables us to analyse the ways in which climate change mitigation and adaptation may lead to different roles and responsibilities in the future. These need to be taken into account in order to identify solutions that draw on the skills, knowledge, resources and experiences of both sexes.
Adaptive activities (e.g. climate-proofing agriculture and ensuring food security, promoting the conservation and efficient use of water, pest and disease management, fire management) are critical to sustainable development. Adaptation efforts, which are daily issues for individual women and men, families and households, are likely to require more resources than such individuals currently have available. Though this impacts on both women and men and women- and men-headed households, it is likely to be more acute for women and women-headed households due to gender gaps in income and social and economic resources.
Women and men living in Europe contribute differently to GHG emissions, both in terms of total emissions and the sectors in which emissions are produced. These differences are based on prevailing gender roles and identities, which are expressed by behaviour and consumption patterns. These gender differentials in the consumption of services and goods can be partly explained by gendered socialisation and the social roles assigned to, and performed by, women and men. Studies have shown that women are more likely to have a greater awareness of health issues and more highly developed risk perceptions, which often impacts on how they perceive health and environmental issues, while men tend to be more strongly oriented towards convenience.
Mitigation strategies are also not gender or equity neutral. Mitigation within the context of sustainable development can help to promote gender equity and women’s empowerment by addressing at least four issues:
- women and men’s energy needs and uses
- women and men’s employment and entrepreneurship – though there are potential challenges and constraints in the agriculture, energy and power sectors
- incorporating women and men’s traditional knowledge and practices into mitigation strategies and policy frameworks
- paying close attention to ensuring gender equity in the use, conservation and management of forests.
Some mitigation actions, such as the provision of clean and modern energy services, save both women and men time, reduce accidents and promote better health. However, other mitigation actions, such as affecting land use, can shift the balance of economic and social resource distribution between women and men and among different communities, and can therefore exacerbate inequality.
Gender differences in the effects of climate change
Extreme weather conditions have gendered impacts. Many disaster studies from around the world show that drought and flooding often kill more women than men. Other differentiators such as age, socioeconomic status and ethnicity are also important determining factors in this context. The heat-wave in France in 2006 killed around 1% more elderly women than men due to cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and directly heat-related deaths.
Both women and men are vulnerable to climate change, particularly if it reduces their capacity to adapt to its negative impacts and also adversely affects their ability to contribute to mitigation. However, women are frequently exposed to additional gender‐specific factors and barriers that consistently render them more vulnerable than men to the impacts of climate change and disasters. This prevents them from utilising their specific skills and knowledge (such as resource management and conservation) to improve mitigation and adaptation outcomes.
Existing gender-equality policy objectives at EU and international level
The gender dimension in environmental policies has begun to be addressed in policy initiatives and debates at the European and international levels only very recently. Gender equality and environmental sustainability have been mainstreamed into EU and international development policies in parallel processes.
The 2009 European Council Conclusions on Climate change and development underlined “the human dimension of climate change, including a gender perspective, and that poor people are most at risk, and that their resilience to climate change needs to be strengthened”. The document also refers to gender equality and women’s empowerment at the end of paragraph 6. This relates to support for programmes that contribute to a low-carbon and climate-resilient development path and adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change: “In providing such support special attention should be paid to gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
The 2012 Council Conclusions on Gender Equality and the Environment stated that enhanced decision-making, qualifications and competitiveness in the field of climate change mitigation policy in the EU play an important role in the focus assigned to gender issues throughout EU environmental policies. These conclusions, which were informed by the report on gender and climate change commissioned by the Danish Presidency and produced by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) recognise that: “Women play a vital role in sustainable development, and that gender as well as social and employment aspects need to be integrated into efforts to combat climate change in order to improve them” (paragraph 1). They also state that: “Women and men affect the climate differently: their consumption patterns are different and they have different CO2 footprints, and they are not represented equally in decision-making in this field … Studies show that women and men also have different perceptions and attitudes towards climate change: women are in general more concerned about this issue and more motivated to act. Women’s potential as agents of change needs to be recognised”. In addition, the conclusions stress that “There is an urgent need to improve gender equality in decision-making in the field of climate change mitigation, especially the transport and energy sectors, and to increase the number of women with relevant qualifications in scientific and technological fields as well as the number of women participating in relevant scientific bodies at the highest level” (paragraph 9). They claim that gender-based prejudices and stereotypes exclude women from areas of the green economy such as transport and energy, causing human resources to be wasted and preventing the EU from achieving its full competitive potential.
The Council calls on the Member States and the Commission to take active and specific measures aimed at achieving a balanced representation of women and men in decision-making in the field of climate change mitigation at all levels, including the EU level; to support women in science and technology at national and European level; to eliminate gender stereotypes and promote gender equality at all levels of education and training, as well as in working life; and to integrate the principle of gender mainstreaming into all relevant legislation, policy measures and instruments related to climate change mitigation. It calls on the Commission to provide guidance for gender mainstreaming of policy areas; to consider focusing on the issue of women and climate change in one of the future reports; and to take action, with the participation of civil society, to raise awareness of the gender dimension of climate change policy.
The European Parliament has been very active in this field since 2011, producing a number of resolutions which address climate change from a gender perspective. For example, in the European Parliament resolution of 29 September 2011 on developing a common EU position ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Article 19 emphasises that the Rio+20 Summit should discuss an integrated approach to address multiple challenges such as poverty eradication, health, food, employment, gender equality, climate change and energy supply.
The European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on women and climate change is explicitly concerned with exposing and addressing the links between climate change and gender. In Article 8 it calls on the Commission and the Member States to collect country-specific and gender-disaggregated data when planning, implementing and evaluating climate change policies, programmes and projects, so as to effectively assess and address the differing effects of climate change on each gender, to produce a guide on adapting to climate change, outlining policies that can protect women, and to empower women to cope with the effects of climate change.
Article 20 calls on the Commission and the Member States to integrate the gender issue into strategies for preventing and managing the risks associated with natural disasters, to promote women’s empowerment and awareness through capacity-building before, during and after climate-related disasters, and to further their active involvement in disaster anticipation, early warning systems and risk prevention as part of their role in resilience-building.
Article 35 stresses the important role played by women in implementing mitigation measures in daily life – for example, through energy- and water-saving practices, recycling measures and the use of eco-friendly and organic products.
Article 42 stresses the need for financing mechanisms to reflect women’s priorities and needs, and for the active involvement of organisations that promote gender equality in the development of funding criteria. This includes the allocation of resources for climate change initiatives, particularly at local level and in the activities of the Green Climate Fund.
The European Parliament report on women and climate change (2012) calls on “the Commission and the Council, in order to ensure that climate action does not increase gender inequalities but results in co-benefits to the situation of women, to mainstream and integrate gender in every step of climate policies, from conception to financing, implementation and evaluation … ”
Article 4 of the European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2012 on women and the green economy calls on the Commission and the Member States to compile age- and gender-disaggregated data when strategies, programmes and budgeting projects are being planned, implemented and evaluated for the environment and climate sectors.
Article 5 calls on the Commission and Member States to establish gender mainstreaming mechanisms at international, national and regional levels in environmental policies, as gender concerns and perspectives are not well integrated in policies and programmes for sustainable development.
The resolution also includes other recommendations regarding gender aspects of environment and the green economy in general, as well as particular recommendations relating to sustainable consumption, sustainable transport, the welfare sector, ‘green’ jobs, and sustainable policies in international relations.
Finally, the European Parliament, in its resolution of 9 June 2015 on the EU Strategy for Equality Between Women and Men Post 2015, calls on the Commission to gather gender-specific data with a view to conducting an impact assessment for women in the areas of climate, environment and energy policy. The resolution stresses the EU’s responsibility and role as a model for gender equality and women’s rights, and underlines that women are not only more vulnerable to the effects of energy supply and use, environment and climate change, but also effective actors in relation to mitigation and adaptation strategies, as well as a driving force for an equitable and sustainable model of growth.
Like all EU policies, climate action is supposed to be gender mainstreamed, and DG CLIMA has named a gender focal person.
The United Nations play a pioneering role within the consideration of gender aspects in environmental policies. The World Summit on environment and development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) adopted a gender perspective in all development and environment policies and programmes, leading to the promotion of women’s effective participation in the proper use of natural resources. This provided the first international precedent for including the gender perspective in promoting sustainable development.
As written in Principle 20 (Rio Principles) resulting from the UN conference on environment and development (UNCED) Rio, 1992: “Women have a vital role in environmental management and development. Their full participation is therefore essential in achieving sustainable development”.
During the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro on 13 June 1992, 178 governments voted to adopt the Agenda 21 programme: it describes action priorities to achieve sustainable development until the 21st century. While there is mention of women throughout the 40 sectoral and inter-sectoral chapters, chapter 24 – Global action for women towards sustainable development – is specifically dedicated to considering women.
This chapter identifies areas that require urgent international action to achieve equality between women and men, which in turn is necessary to enable effective implementation of the sustainable development agenda. It focuses on the crucial role they play in changing the present consumption and production model and stresses that, if the Summit’s Resolutions are to be successfully implemented, they will need to play a part in politico-economic decisions. At the same time, there are proposed actions to end present discrimination against women. Agenda 21 recognises the importance of women’s traditional knowledge and practices, stresses the contributions women have made to biodiversity conservation (Section 24.8 (a)) and asks that specific measures be adopted to transform objectives into strategies (Section 24.2(f)).
The convention on biological diversity (CBD), adopted in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio ‘Earth Summit’), is the international framework for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the fair distribution of its benefits. The objective of the CBD is to promote the sustainable use of biodiversity. This convention recognises that biodiversity includes not only plants, animals, micro-organisms and their ecosystems, but also human beings and their needs (e.g. food, clean air, medicines and a clean and healthy environment). To date, it has been ratified by 190 states. Women’s participation has been explicitly addressed within the CBD. Paragraph 13 of the Preamble of the Convention mentions the important participation of women in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity: “Recognise the vital role that women play in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, emphasising the need for the full participation of women at all levels of policymaking and implementation for biological diversity conservation.”
At the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, the link between gender, the environment and sustainable development was clearly defined. Area K of the Platform for Action makes specific reference to the environment with strategic objectives and action as central themes, including the poverty that affects many women; the need for women to participate vigorously in making decisions about the environment at all levels; and integration of the gender perspective in sustainable development policies and programmes. This perspective was later apparent in a number of international meetings that further explored the relationship between gender and sustainable development. BPfA Area K on Women and Environment identifies the following strategic objectives:
Strategic objective K.1: Involve women actively in environmental decision-making at all levels
Strategic objective K.2: Integrate gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programmes for sustainable development
Strategic objective K.3: Strengthen or establish mechanisms at the national, regional and international levels to assess the impact of development and environmental policies on women.
The Earth Charter (2000), the international declaration of fundamental values and principles aimed at building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century, “seeks to inspire in all peoples a sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family, the greater community of life, and future generations”. In particular, Article 11 states: Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care and economic opportunity.
During the UN World conference on disaster reduction held in Hyogo (2005), the United Nations agreed on the opportunity to integrate gender equity into all decision-making and planning processes related to disaster risk management.
The Framework for Action of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction states: “A gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster risk management policies, plans and decision-making processes, including those related to risk assessment, early warning, information management, and education and training. Develop early warning systems that are people centred, in particular systems whose warnings are timely and understandable to those at risk, which take into account the demographic, gender, cultural and livelihood characteristics of the target audiences, including guidance on how to act upon warnings, and that support effective operations by disaster managers and other decision makers. Ensure equal access to appropriate training and educational opportunities for women and vulnerable constituencies, promote gender and cultural sensitivity training as integral components of education and training for disaster risk reduction”.
The Future We Want outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development/ Earth Summit (Rio+20) held in Rio de Janeiro 2012, recognises gender equality as an important cross-cutting issue, makes several gender-specific references in the preamble and in sectoral and thematic areas, and includes a special thematic section on gender equality and the empowerment of women, in which several provisions are made to enhance gender equality in the context of sustainable development and the promotion of a green economy. The document states that “women have a vital role to play in achieving sustainable development” and recognises “the leadership role of women”. In the document the United Nations “resolve to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and to ensure their full and effective participation in sustainable development policies, programmes and decision-making at all levels”.
The Sendai Framework is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. It was adopted at the Third UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan, on 18 March 2015. It is the outcome of stakeholder consultations initiated in March 2012 and intergovernmental negotiations from July 2014 to March 2015, supported by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction at the request of the UN General Assembly. Attention is posed on a participatory process which need to be tailored to the needs of users, including social and cultural requirements, in particular gender.
Since the fourth UNESCO Forum on Gender Equality held on 19 June 2008 with a deep focus on the gender dimensions of climate change, the commitment of UNESCO and its Division for Gender Equality to the mainstreaming of gender equality considerations throughout all of its actions to mitigate and/or adapt to global climate change, have clearly emerged. During the forum, UNESCO analysed the causes and foreseen effects of global climate change, highlighted the importance of integrating a gender equality dimension from the start into action to address climate change.
How and when? Environment and Climate Change integration of the gender dimension into the policy cycle
The gender dimension can be integrated in all phases of the policy cycle. For a detailed description of how gender can be mainstreamed in each phase of the policy cycle click here.
Below, you can find useful resources and practical examples for mainstreaming gender into environment and climate change policies. They are organised according to the most relevant phase of the policy cycle they may serve.
In this phase, it’s recommended that information is gathered on the situation of women and men in a particular area. This means looking for sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics, as well as checking for the existence of studies, programme or project reports, and/or evaluations from previous periods.
Examples of gender, environment and climate change statistics
The Environment and Gender Index (EGI)
The Environment and Gender Index (EGI), launched in 2013, is the first-ever tool to monitor progress towards gender equality in the context of global environmental governance. The EGI Provides the quantitative data to date on how nations are translating gender and environment mandates into national policy and planning, Shows how nations that take seriously their commitment to tackling women’s advancement in their environmental efforts are making huge strides beyond survival to long-term well-being for all their citizens and brings together variables that measure environment and gender in a composite index, ranking 72 countries worldwide along 27 dimensions divided into six categories: Livelihood, Ecosystem, Gender-based Rights & Participation, Governance, Gender-based Education and Assets, and Country-Reported Activities.
The WMID database was established to monitor the number of men and women in key decision-making positions and in order to provide reliable statistics that can be used to monitor the current situation and trends through time
Data can be used to monitor the current situation and trends through time on positions of power and influence in politics, public administration, the judiciary, and various other key areas of the economy, including the environment sector. The section on Environment covers the gender balance among politicians and civil servants with competences in environment at international, European and national level.
Eurostat – education and training database
This database produces and publishes indicators and analyses on the operation, evolution and impact of education, from early childhood through formal education to learning and training throughout life. Data and indicators disseminated include participation rates at different levels of education, enrolments in public and private institutions, third level education graduates, pupil-teacher ratios, foreign language learning, expenditure on education per student and relative GDP. Data are disaggregated by sex, age and educational level. The data collection on education statistics is based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). For data on educational attainment based on the EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) the International Standard Classification of Education 2011 (ISCED 2011) is applied as from 2014. The database allows to calculate indicators in gender segregation in education, in particular in the employment and climate change related fields. The database is used for the calculation of an indicator (the proportion of women and men among third level graduates in natural sciences and technologies completing graduate/post-graduate (ISCED 5) as well as advanced research studies/PhDs (ISCED 6)) included in the set of indicators for monitoring Area K – Women and Environment.
Examples of studies, research, reports
United Nations Development Programme (2008) - Resource guide on gender and climate change
The guide is based on a study that presents principal conceptual and methodological advances on gender relations in the context of climate change. The overall objective is to provide guidelines for actors, practitioners and consumers in this programme area. It has been prepared through research, analyses and combinations of international frameworks, conceptual and methodological documents, and the compilation of case studies. The guide also considers the approaches that consultants take to deal with the topic, as well as views held by organisations and experts in this field.
European Institute for Gender Equality – EIGE (2012) - Review of the Implementation in the EU of Area K of the Beijing Platform for Action: Women and the Environment Gender Equality and Climate Change
The report prepared by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) reviews the progress made by the European Union Member States in the implementation of one of the 12 areas of concern of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace (BPfA), namely of Area K: Women and the Environment. It is the first EU-wide report on gender equality and climate change which provides comparable data at the EU level. Furthermore, it introduces the first indicators to support policy makers in measuring progress in climate change policies from the perspective of gender equality.
International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN (2013)
The report presents the results of the pilot phase of the Environment and Gender Index (EGI), a project of the Global Gender Office of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The index intends to help to measure progress in implementation, improve information, and empower countries to take steps forward for gender equality and for the environment.
Allwood, G. (2014). Gender mainstreaming and EU climate change policy
In: Weiner, E. and MacRae H. (eds) The persistent invisibility of gender in EU policy. European Integration online Papers (EIoP), Special issue 1, Vol. 18, Article 6.
The study examines how gender mainstreaming has been addressed in European Union climate change policy, finding out that with a few exceptions, EU responses to climate change are gender-blind. The article demonstrates that this happens despite the Treaty obligations to gender mainstream policy in all areas and despite the intersections between climate change and development policy, which is renowned for having taken gender equality and women's empowerment seriously and for instigating gender mainstreaming and specific actions as a means to achieve them.
Did you know that EIGE has a Resource and Documentation Centre? Check whether there is relevant information to feed into your analysis.
One of the first steps to take when defining your policy/project/programme is to gather information and analyse the situation of women and men in the respective policy area. The information and data you collect will allow an understanding of the reality and assist you in designing your policy, programme or project. Specific methods that can be used in this phase are gender analysis and gender impact assessment.
Examples of gender analysis
United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP (2007) - Towards gender mainstreaming in environmental policies, in women and the environment
The publication has explored the differing roles, responsibilities, positions and perspectives that women and men have in relation to natural resource use and management, with an emphasis on biological diversity, dryland systems and water resources. It focuses on the provision of a strategic model for gender mainstreaming in context with the environment and sustainable development. In particular chapter 6 offers a strategic model for gender mainstreaming in institutions dealing with environment and sustainable development.
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE (2009) – Gender and Environment - A guide to the integration of gender aspects in the OSCE’s environmental projects
This guide aims to make the link between gender considerations and the environment visible. It aims to provide an introduction focusing on the basic knowledge of gender-related aspects of water, energy, land management, chemicals management, climate change, waste management and local environmental governance. The purpose of this guide is to present a comprehensive understanding of what gender mainstreaming means from an environment and sustainable development perspective and to provide guidance on how gender mainstreaming can be put into practice.
United Nations Development Programme – UNDP (2010), Gender, climate change and community-based adaptation
A guidebook for designing and implementing gender-sensitive community-based adaptation programmes and projects.
The theme of gender and the issue of climate change are cross-cutting issues that have to be mainstreamed into all programme activities of UN agencies. The guide provides simple tools and practical advice on how to take a gender-sensitive approach to planning and implementing adaptation projects and programmes regardless of context; thus it can be a useful reference for any development practitioners or policymakers working in this field. Chapter 5 is specifically dedicated to gender analysis.
United Nations Industrial Development Organisation – UNIDO (2015) - Guide on gender mainstreaming environmental management projects
The guide is intended to help national and local counterparts, agencies, international and private-sector partners, and individual experts involved in environmental management interventions to apply a gender perspective to their work and, more specifically, to mainstream gender throughout the project cycle.
Example of a gender impact assessment
Institute for Social-ecological Research – Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung – ISOE (2001) Research on gender, the environment and sustainable development
The report is part of gender impact assessment studies launched by the European Commission in order to introduce a critical dimension in the way gender issues are treated throughout the fifth European Framework Programme for Research, Technology Development and Demonstration (RTD). These gender impact assessments are part of a process started by the European Commission with the objective to take the gender dimension better into account within research policy. The results of these studies will serve as a basis for the designing of future research policies at the Community level.
Consider consulting stakeholders (e.g. gender experts, civil society organisations) on the topic at hand, to share and validate your findings and to improve your policy or programme proposal. This will enhance the learning process on the subject for all those involved and will improve the quality of the work done at EU level. The stakeholders consultation process will start in this phase, but could also be considered as an important method to be applied along all the policy cycle phases.
Examples of stakeholders that can be consulted
The network works to achieve gender and climate justice by raising awareness and building capacity on gender and climate to improve climate policies; by increasing the knowledge base on gender and climate to identify effective mitigation and adaptation options; by empowering women and men to actively contribute to mitigation and adaptation; by enhancing cooperation on green and climate issues at all levels and by advocating for gender and climate justice as overarching, guiding principles.
Gender, Science, Technology and Environment network.
This is a policy-driven targeted network funded by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) which organises awareness-raising events across Europe.
In particular, in relation to energy and climate issues, its main objective is to provide a systematic overview of existing research, identify topics that need additional research and develop a research agenda on gender, energy and climate change. The network supports the integration of gender dimensions into the “climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials” challenge of Horizon 2020 by providing a basis for better addressing gender dimensions in this priority area for European policy and research.
Global Gender and Climate Change Alliance (GGCA)
Launched in 2007, the Global Gender and Climate Alliance works to ensure that climate change policies, decision-making, and initiatives at the global, regional and national levels are gender-responsive which is critical to solving the climate crisis.
In particular it aims to integrate a gender perspective into policy and decision-making, ensuring that financing mechanisms on mitigation and adaptation address the needs of poor women and men equitably, developing capacity-building at all levels to design and implement gender-responsive climate change policies, strategies and programmes, and sharing practical tools, information, and methodologies to facilitate the integration of gender into policy and programming.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) - Global Gender Office
The International Union for Conservation of Nature is an intergovernmental organisation. The Global Gender Office contributes towards IUCN’s vision and mission by providing innovative approaches, technical support, policy development and capacity-building to a wide range of partners, ensuring gender equality is central to sustainable global environmental solutions.
Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF)
It is an international network of over 150 women’s and civil society organisations implementing projects in 50 countries and advocating globally to shape a just and sustainable world. WECF promotes gender-positive energy solutions and integrates a gender perspective into global UN climate change negotiations.
Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO)
This is a women’s advocacy organisation that works on a range of cross-cutting issues (climate change and natural resource management, global governance and finance, UN reform) towards 3 interlinked goals: research and raising awareness, fostering and facilitating networks and campaigns, and building capacity and training with women and women’s organisations, gender advocates, government and UN actors. While WEDO works at the international level primarily, it supports regional and national stakeholders, networks and governments to turn policy commitments on gender equality into action striving to improve the lives of women and men around the world.
Women’s Environmental Network (WEN), UK
The Women's Environmental Network (WEN) has been highlighting the vital links between gender equality, health and well-being, and environmental justice for over 25 years. It pursues this goal through campaigns, education and community work.
The Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment (NWMLE)
This is an informal network of female environment and deputy environment ministers and other female leaders in the environmental field. The network was formed in 2002.
In this phase, it's appropriate to analyse budgets from a gender perspective. Gender budgeting is used to identify how budget allocations contribute to promoting gender equality. Gender budgeting brings visibility to how much public money is spent for women and men respectively. Thus, it ensures that public funds are fairly distributed between women and men. It also contributes to accountability and transparency about how public funds are being spent.
Example of gender budgeting in environment and climate change
Alternative Futures, Gender and State Climate Change Action Plans in India
Alternative Futures, Gender and State Climate Change Action Plans in India have published research and policies to enable poor women and rural communities adapt to climate change.
This policy research examines gender budgeting components in state government’s adaptation-related public budgets. Focusing on the 4 states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, the ongoing study shows there is a wide variance between what different states spend on adaptation-oriented programmes. Also, not all states report on gender budgeting. Some still work with the more limited ‘Women’s Component Plan’ that earmarks 30% of funds/benefits for women, rather than the broader and more transformative gender-budgeting approach which is an ongoing empowering process and not just an accounting exercise. This gender budget computation will help to compare whether gender budgets within adaptation-focused policies and programmes do justice to the workload of women engaged in adaptation practices on farmland and allied activities.
Budlender, D. (2014) Tracking climate change funding
Learning from gender-responsive budgeting: International Budget Partnership Paper.
The paper aims to guide lesson-learning from the experience of gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) initiatives that might inform initiatives in respect of budgeting for climate change. In particular, the paper might help climate change work avoid some pitfalls and maximise some opportunities, pointing to what has not worked for some GRB initiatives as well as what has worked.
The paper highlights some experiences and challenges faced in all types of GRB initiatives, placing special emphasis on initiatives conducted in and by governments.
When planning, don’t forget to establish monitoring and evaluation systems, and indicators that that will allow measurement and compare the impact of the policy or programme on women and men over the timeframe of its implementation. Remember to define the appropriate times to monitor and evaluate your policy.
Examples of indicators for monitoring gender, environment and climate change
Proportion of women and men in climate change decision-making bodies at the national level in the EU Member States
This indicator provides information on the percentage of women and men in national authorities with the highest level of decision-making competences in environment/climate change, transport and energy policy. Data relate to the presence of women and men in the national environment decision-making bodies (environment, climate change, transport and energy ministries or government departments of national governments). Positions covered are: senior ministers; members of the government who have a seat on the cabinet or council of ministers; junior ministers; members of the government who do not have a seat on the cabinet; national administrations; level 1 administrators; highest level of administrative (non-political) positions within each ministry and level 2 administrators; and second level of administrative (non-political) positions within each ministry. The indicator is included in the set of indicators for monitoring Area K – Women and environment. In 2014, only 28% of environment senior ministers and 27% of junior ministers of the EU-28 Member States were women. At national administration level, 30% of level 1 administrators and 38% of level 2 administrators were women. Data are available on the EC-DG Justice Database on women and men in decision-making (WMID).
Proportion of women and men in climate change decision-making in the European Parliament and the Commission
This indicator measures women’s and men’s participation in decision-making on climate change policies at EU level. Data relate to the presence of women and men in the EU environment decision-making bodies (Directorates-General (DGs) of the European Commission with competences in environment, climate change, transport and energy, and committees of the European Parliament with competences in environment, climate change, energy and transport). The positions covered are: European Commission (political positions); Commissioner, Head of Cabinet, Cabinet members; European Commission (administrative positions); Director-General (Directorate-General), Directors (Directorates); European Parliament: Chair, members. As at 2014, at Directorates-General level 1 in 4 Commissioners is a women (DG Mobility and Transport), while the Commissioner of the DG Environment is a man, as well as the Head of Cabinet. Members of Cabinet of the DG Environment are equally represented by sex (50%). The indicator is included in the set of indicators for monitoring Area K – Women and Environment. As for European Commission administrative positions, the presence of women in DG Environment is around 29%. At the European Parliament level, 46% of the Members of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee are women. Data are available on the EC-DG Justice Database on women and men in decision-making (WMID).
Proportion of women and men in climate change decision-making bodies at the international level
This indicator provides information on women’s and men's participation in decision-making bodies working on international climate policies. It presents the percentage of women participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as part of national delegations and the EU delegation to the Conference of the Parties (COP) and to the Subsidiary Bodies (SB). The COP delegations to the UNFCCC represent the political negotiating and decision-making body on international climate change policies, and are supported by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Supplementary Body for Implementation (SBI). The indicator is included in the set of indicators for monitoring Area K – Women and Environment. As of 2014, the Bureau of the COP is composed of 27% women, while the delegations of COP and SB are composed of 40% and 48% women respectively. The National COP delegations are composed of 45% women considering all EU-28 Member States. Data are available on the EC-DG Justice Database on women and men in decision-making (WMID).
Proportion of women and men among third level graduates of all graduates (ISCED levels 5 and 6) in natural sciences and technologies at the EU and Member State level
Gender gaps in energy-related education is also relevant, as the environment sector requires workers with scientific knowledge and expertise in the sector, and women are strongly under-represented. An indicator for measuring the gender inequality is the proportion of women and men among third level graduates in natural sciences and technologies completing graduate/post-graduate (ISCED 5) as well as advanced research studies/PhDs (ISCED 6) both in public and private institutions. It is also included in the set of indicators for monitoring Area K – Women and Environment. In 2012, women graduated in natural sciences are the 53.8% of the total, while women graduated in technologies are only the 28%. It must be emphasised, however, that not all areas included in the calculation of the indicator are directly linked with energy and or climate change. Calculation of the indicator could be made using Eurostat data, Education and Training Statistics (online data code: educ_grad5: ‘Graduates in ISCED 3–6 by field of education and sex’).
When preparing calls for proposals in the framework of funding programmes, or terms of reference in the context of public procurement procedures (notably for contractors to be hired for policy support services), don’t forget to formalise gender-related requirements. This will ensure the projects and services which the European Commission will fund are not gender-blind or gender biased.
Example of procurement
International Trade Centre (ITC) (2014) - Empowering women through public procurement
Thisguide provides governments, procuring entities and other stakeholders with a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by women-owned businesses when participating in public procurement markets. Examples related to environmentally sustainable practices are provided.
In the implementation phase of a policy or programme, ensure that all who are involved are sufficiently aware about the relevant gender objectives and plans. If this is not the case, set up briefings and capacity-building initiatives according to staff needs. Think about researchers, proposal evaluators, monitoring and evaluation experts, scientific officers, programme committee members, etc.
Example of capacity-building initiatives about gender, environment and climate change
United Nations Development Programme (2007) - Gender mainstreaming – a key driver of development in environment and energy.
The training manual, divided into 2 parts, aims at examining environment and energy development projects, policies and decision-making processes from a gender perspective. The first part of the manual presents a brief overview of the issues, explaining why they are important and how to address them in practice. At the end of each module there are discussion topics, case studies, and resources for further reading, as well as a list of the assignments that are set out in detail in Part 2.
The second part of the manual provides additional materials for use in conducting training courses, including instructions and guidance for training facilitators, detailed descriptions of assignments and handouts.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Global Gender Alliance
The training manual in gender and climate change is intended to improve skills around gender and climate change and equip and develop trainers in different regions and countries. It guides the reader through 10 steps to follow when planning training, including defining target groups, setting objectives and evaluation.
Australian National University (2015) - Exploring gender, resources and the environment
This is a graduate course offered by the Environmental Management and Development Programme which aims to engage with contemporary literature and theoretical perspectives to broaden the students' understanding of environmental sustainability. It explores women’s and men's participation and roles in environment and natural resource management with an emphasis on developing countries.
Example of gender language in environment and climate change
Women and Gender Constituency (2015), Position paper on the 2015 new climate agreement.
The Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) is one of the 9 stakeholder groups of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Established in 2009, the WGC now consists of 15 women’s and environmental civil society organisations and networks, and hosts an advocacy list of over 100 women activists and gender experts.
The paper intends to offer some recommendations on just and gender-responsive climate agreement. In particular, the authors recognise that the inclusion of women in national climate change delegations and as negotiators is vital in closing the already existing gender gap during negotiations and will result in strengthened gender language in the climate change negotiations.
A policy cycle or programme should be checked both during - monitoring, and at the end - evaluation of its implementation.
Monitoring the ongoing work allows for the follow-up of progress and remedying unforeseen difficulties. This process should take into account the indicators delineated in the planning phase and data collection based on those indicators.
At the end of a policy cycle or programme, a gender-sensitive evaluation should take place. Make your evaluation is publicly accessible and strategically disseminate its results to promote its learning potential.
Example of gender monitoring and evaluation on environment and climate change
Castaneda, I., Aguilar, C. and Rand, A. (2013). Measurement and reporting: Important elements of gender mainstreaming in environmental policies
Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, 22 (3), Article 5.
This article identifies the advances and barriers in formulating gender-inclusive environmental agendas. It provides an overview of the manner and extent to which gender is highlighted in international agreements, national policies and reporting instruments. In particular, the study highlights 3 main concerns regarding the articulation of gender and the environment in the majority of national and global reports, one of which is related to the fact that gender and the environment are often presented as parallel and distinct agendas; nonetheless, achieving sustainable development requires their complete integration, thus solid monitoring and evaluation practices are fundamental in this process.
Schalatek, L. and Burns K. (2013) - Operationalising a gender‐sensitive approach in the Green Climate Fund
The paper is intended to support the process of mainstreaming gender into the processes and financing of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), that has been established by the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at its 16th session at Cancun in 2010. The study demonstrates that the inclusion of core gender indicators at all levels is crucial. Such gender indicators have to be appropriate and smart in order to be effective for monitoring and evaluation of outputs, outcomes and impacts.
Practical examples of gender mainstreaming in environment and climate change
Integration of gender-related concerns and gender perspectives in sustainable development policies and programmes is realised through the Austrian Development Cooperation Agency (OEZA). In this context, the OEZA recognises the UN’s environmental conventions, the principles of EU policies and the OECD Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in the inter-ministerial Strategic Guideline on Environment and Development (Strategischer Leitfaden Umwelt & Entwicklung) which was adopted by the Cabinet in September 2009. Women, as important guardians of environmental knowledge, are crucial actors when it comes to changes in natural resource management.
Furthermore, in December 2012 the Austrian Foreign Ministry organised the Vienna Policy Dialogue on Gender Equality in cooperation with UNDESA and UN Women. The event, Advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in development cooperation and the post-2015 development agenda, was mainly aimed at preparing the fourth Development Cooperation Forum of the UN Economic and Social Council in 2014. The subjects discussed were, first and foremost, how gender equality and women’s empowerment can be positioned in the global environmental development agenda of the future.
As part of Finland’s presidency in the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2011, an electronic portal about climate change and gender was created. The Nordic gender equality ministers have been working to include a gender equality perspective into solutions targeted towards mitigation and adaptation work and to disseminate information on gender equality in climate change and sustainable development. The portal collects knowledge about climate and gender from a number of different perspectives including transport, consumption, food and energy. It also contains information about gender-aware climate work in the Nordic countries as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland and also on global level (UN). Furthermore, it contains information about activities, reports and political decision-making regarding gender equality and climate change as well as portrays practical examples about how women and men, and girls and boys, are affected, and how they in turn affect climate change through their lifestyles and behaviour patterns.
The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) is to pursue the impact of a gender perspective in research and promote equality between men and women. Formas annually reports on its work on, among other things, the distribution of women and men in its drafting groups and in applications received and approved applications.
The key milestones of the EU environment and climate change policy are presented below.
The objectives of the European Environmental Policy are set in its Article 191.
Read the programme here.
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), adopted in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio ‘Earth Summit’), in which the important participation of women in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is explicitly mentioned.
Adoption of the Kyoto Protocol with the objective of reducing emissions of GHGs by 5% between 2008 and 2012 by taking more energetic (and legally binding) measures.
Adoption of the First European climate change programme (ECCP) which aims at identifying and developing all the necessary elements of an EU strategy to implement the Kyoto Protocol.
European Commission Directive 2003/87/EC that regulates the EU Emissions Trading System, the EU’s key instrument for reducing GHG emissions from industry.
The United Nations agreed on the opportunity to integrate gender equity into all decision-making and planning processes related to disaster risk management.
Adoption of the Climate and Energy Package that introduced an integrated approach to climate and energy policy with the aim of transforming Europe into a highly energy-efficient, low-carbon economy. The Climate and Energy Package set the mid-term targets, commonly known as the 20-20-20 targets.
It sets compulsory national targets for renewable energy which reflect Member States’ different starting points and potential for increasing renewables production as well as for emissions from sectors not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System.
Read the conclusions here.
Read the document here.
Read the conclusions here.
Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, including objectives of environmental policy.
Strategy aims to strengthen Europe’s resilience against the impacts of climate change.
The European Parliament, in its Resolution of 9 June 2015 on the EU strategy for equality between women and men post 2015, calls on the Commission to gather gender-specific data with a view to conducting an impact assessment for women in the areas of climate, environment and energy policy.
Current policy priorities at EU level
The overarching policy priorities of EU policy for environment and climate are clearly identified in the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) will be guiding European environment policy until 2020.
In particular, it identifies 3 key objectives:
- To protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital: in this field the EAP commits the EU and its Member States to speed up the implementation of existing strategies, fill gaps where legislation doesn't yet exist, and improve existing legislation.
- To turn the Union into a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy: the EAP sets out the conditions that will help transform the EU into a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy. There is a special focus on turning waste into a resource and to move towards more efficient use of our water resources. This requires:
- full delivery of the Climate and Energy Package to achieve the 20-20-20 targets and agreement on the next steps for climate policy beyond 2020
- significant improvements to the environmental performance of products over their life cycle
- reductions in the environmental impact of consumption, including issues such as cutting food waste and using biomass in a sustainable way.
- To safeguard the Union's citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and well-being: this third key action area covers challenges to human health and well-being, such as air and water pollution, excessive noise and chemicals. Europe needs to be sufficiently resilient to challenges posed by new and emerging risks, including the impacts of climate change. Thus it is necessary to:
- update air quality and noise legislation
- improve implementation of legislation relating to drinking and bathing water
- tackle hazardous chemicals, including nanomaterials, chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system and chemicals in combination, as part of a broader, strategic approach for a non-toxic environment.
A set of 4 so-called ‘enablers’ will help Europe deliver on these goals:
- Better implementation of legislation, that would save €72 billion a year; increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by €42 billion; and create over 400,000 new jobs by 2020.
- Better information by improving the knowledge base, in order to improve the way data and other information is collected, managed and used across the EU; invest in research to fill knowledge gaps; develop a more systematic approach to new and emerging risks.
- More and wiser investment for environment and climate policy, that can be effective only if impacts on the environment are properly accounted for and if market signals also reflect the true costs to the environment. This involves applying the polluter-pays principle more systematically; phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies; shifting taxation from labour towards pollution.
- Full integration of environmental requirements and considerations into other policies such as regional policy, agriculture, fisheries, energy and transport will ensure better decision-making and coherent policy approaches that deliver multiple benefits.
Two additional horizontal priority objectives complete the programme:
- To make the Union's cities more sustainable, promoting and expanding initiatives that support innovation and best practice sharing in cities; ensuring that by 2020, most cities in the EU are implementing policies for sustainable urban planning and design, and are using the EU funding available for this purpose.
- To help the Union address international environmental and climate challenges more effectively, many of the priority objectives in the EAP can only be achieved in cooperation with partner countries or as part of a global approach.
Want to know more?
Selected policy documents relevant to environment and climate change
Selected policy documents relevant to gender equality
Selected references of studies on gender issues in environment and climate change
Organisations and institutions
Table of contents
- 1Relevance of gender in the policy area
- 2Gender inequalities in the policy area - Main issues
- 3Existing gender-equality policy objectives at EU and international level
- 4Policy cycle
- 5Practical examples of gender mainstreaming in environment and climate change
- 7Current policy priorities at EU level
- 8Want to know more?
- 9Related content