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Gender, UN

The UN Climate Fund and the Role of Women

There it is!

After three postponements, due to quarrellings on seat allocation,  the 48 represented countries of the United Nations‘ Green Climate Fund (GCF) have finally announced their nominations. The first meeting during which respresentatives will primarily discuss organisational and operational issues and draft the first fund’s workplan, will take place from 23 to 25 August in Geneva (Switzerland) (see Reuters).

Background to the GCF

The board’s foundation was already decided in December 2011. The board’s aim is to channel up to 100 billion dollar to various programmes, politics, projects and activities which target climate change adaptation or mitigation in developing countries up to 2020. (see Report of the Global Environment Facility to the Conference of the Parties and additional guidance to the Global Environment Facility, more information on UNFCCC)

Besides installing mechanisms to oversee operations and developping environmental and social safeguards, the fund’s board needs to develop criteria for the application and funding process.

Defining criteria and gender themes

Hopefully, more account will be taken of gender themes, in contrast to previous funds:

The criteria of the Special Climate Change Fund mentiones the involvement of civil society, public participation and considerations of gender themes, but only as appropriate (if it is appropriate depends on the individual, there are no criteria mentioned when it seems important). The social aspect got only mentioned after the listing of the more important criteria of technical implementation, financing and sustainability.

Merely marginal is that …

  •  implementation and long-term performance depends on people who live and work ‚on site‘, and
  • already affected people probably know best how to draft solutions, implement them and promote them to others.

The involvement of all relevant actors is key and has to be parf of every strategy right from the starting-point. The involvement should not be neglected, or even forgotten in any phase of the implementation!

The role of woman in climate change adaptation

Thereby women play a key role, also illustrated by an article published on Thursday on Alternet. A project from Sri Lanka exemplifies one of the few activities which include and involve women’s perspectives and ideas right from the beginning. Sri Lanka had been suffering from water shortages for several years alreadyand action had to be taken! During planning and implementation women were given a central position:

Due to their role in the society of Sri Lanka women have the main responsibility for household work. Therefore they know best about the actual water consumption for cooking  and washing. Furthermore, increasingly more women are head of the family and their husbandry since more and more men migrate to urban areas to find new employment opportunitites (because of the decreasing agricultural yield). Women drafted not only the various actions but also promoted them successfully. According to the article adaptation and mitigation strategies would not have been effectively drafted and implemented without the direct and active involvement of women. This statement is also supported by various studies, such as Gender and Climate Change Supporting Resources Collection by Georgina Aboud (2011) and Women at the frontline of climate change. Gender Risks and Hopes by C. Nellemann et al. (eds.) UNEP 2011.

Consequences for the GCF

As a result, the GCF needs to have gender themes on the table right from the beginning and these have to be part of the whole fund’s plan, especially of the criteria section. Not only the fund’s host should be decided during the first meeting (currently six countries are applying) but also the role and involvement of, for instance, gender themes need to be discussed and how directly affected people can play a part in the fund.

But since power games on the seat allocation had been more important than quick acting it is very unlikely that this is about to happen!




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