Blog

WordPress

Posted by on Aug 5, 2016 in Featured, General | 0 comments

WordPress

read more

WordPress

Posted by on Jun 30, 2016 in Featured, General | 0 comments

WordPress

read more

Unleashing the power of women in the renewable energy sector

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Featured, General | 0 comments

Unleashing the power of women in the renewable energy sector

In the United States, October has been designated as “National Energy Awareness Month”— emphasizing how central energy is to national prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. At GGO, we also recognize the importance of energy, particularly renewable energy, and the necessity of access to modern, clean and renewable fuel sources for billions of people globally, not the least of which are women. Evidence from many sectors suggests that integrating women into all levels of the energy value chain will lead to more effective clean energy initiatives, unleash greater return on investments, and expand emission reduction opportunities. However, while more attention is being paid to the imperative role of women in the energy sector, there is still a significant lack of recognition of women as more than passive users of energy. For instance, the current composition of the energy sector, particularly at high-level decision-making positions, remains a homogenous group. The latest study conducted by the Environment and Gender Index (EGI) estimated that women occupy only 4% of the World Energy Council (WEC) positions and 18% of the WEC Secretary Positions. Adnan Z. Amin, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Director-General says, “Here in the United States, a country fast becoming a leader in renewable energy innovation, we are seeing a rapid rise in deployment of solar PV in particular, along with strong investment in wind in several states and a leading focus on development of advanced biofuels. Overall, wind jobs in the US have increased by almost half – 43% – since last count to 73,000, whilst total solar employment surged 22% to 173,800 in 2014. We have also found that the employment of women in the US solar industry is on the rise, increasing from 26,700 to 37,500 last year.” Energy initiatives can shift gender paradigms by promoting the empowerment of women, as these initiatives can have the ability to increase income-generating opportunities for women, reduce hunger and poverty levels, and enhance women’s social and political status. The 2012 World Development Report noted, “Greater gender equality is smart economics, enhancing productivity, advancing development outcomes for the next generation, and making institutions more representative.” As primary users of household energy for cooking and heating, access to energy for rural women critical, as studies have estimated that there are more than 1.6 billion people living without reliable sources of energy, and 2.7 billion people relying on open fires and traditional stoves for cooking and heating—and it is not unreasonable to assume that at minimum half of these are women. Meeting cooking, heating, and lighting needs places a significant burden on rural women and girls, negatively impacting their health and safety, and limiting education and livelihood opportunities. Improving women’s status has an impact on many other development outcomes, including for children, and the clean energy sector stands to benefit from, and should contribute to, these kinds of improvements. To assist both policymakers and practitioners in understanding the significant and essential links between gender and renewable energy—specifically in order to bridge the gender knowledge gap around macro energy projects and the significant demand for guidance on large-scale projects—IUCN’s Global Gender Office, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), recently launched the Gender and Renewable Energy (G-REEN) Platform—a knowledge and resource hub that aims to unite mitigation practitioners so they may...

read more

There is no Justice in Climate Change

Posted by on Sep 28, 2015 in Featured, General | 0 comments

There is no Justice in Climate Change

Today is the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action–a day for women and our allies to mobilize around the world, to show resistance to false solutions to the climate crisis, and to demonstrate the many viable options that are just and equitable and that honor frontline communities. This is a crucial opportunity to spotlight that striving for gender equality is not only the right thing to do, but it is the smart thing to do in relation to climate change. However, there is no justice when it comes to climate change.The damaging effects of a changing climate do not discriminate. When floods wash away homes, when droughts ravage crops, when disease spreads like wildfire through rural villages and communities, nature doesn’t pick and chose its victims. We do. Men and women are not equally impacted by climate change. This is not because women are weak or often less physically strong than men–their vulnerability is the product of interrelated socio-cultural processes that creates inequalities. For example, around the world women suffer from pervasive structures that limit their ability to own land, borrow and invest money, or start a business. According to a recent study performed by the World Bank, 155 out of 173 economies have at least one legal difference between men and women that may significantly reduce the economic opportunities of women. As the need for climate change mitigation and adaptation actions grows, the distribution of related financing will increase–as will the potential gap in access to and control over resources between men and women under the prevailing systems and mechanisms. Due to existing economic structures, financial resources to aid in the mitigation and adaptation of climate change are not as likely to be available to women as to men, and unequal disbursement of funding will intensify inequity. Because of their responsibility to get water, food, and energy for cooking and heating, women in developing countries depend on natural resources for both livelihoods and security. The impacts of climate change, including drought, variable rainfall, and deforestation, make it more and more challenging to obtain these resources. Additionally, in comparison with men, women face historical disadvantages, including limited access to decision-making and economic assets that can exacerbate the challenges of climate change. In a recent Environment and Gender Index (EGI) study, for six out of nine environmental decision-making processes, women represent less than one-third of decision makers. But women are not weak, disabled, or in need of “saving”. They are 50% of the solution, they are household and community leaders and decision makers, they are a wealth of knowledge and expertise for climate change adaptation. For this reason, over the past few years the IUCN Global Gender Office (GGO) has started working with national governments to develop Climate Change Gender Action Plans (ccGAPs) in order to foster comprehensive approaches to climate change that span from the assurance of gender equality in the policy frameworks of technical sectors to the reduction of barriers in institutional practices, and lay the groundwork for innovative activities that are driven by and engage women as entrepreneurs, leaders, and partners in climate change response for more resilient communities and countries. A ccGAP moves beyond framing women as vulnerable victims–but rather recognizes gender equality as a driver for transformational change. Recently, GGO supported the government of...

read more

Stop being so sensitive! The shift from gender-sensitive to gender-responsive action

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Featured, General | 0 comments

Stop being so sensitive! The shift from gender-sensitive to gender-responsive action

From Costa Rica to Cameroon, women are the primary users of many natural resources—playing essential roles in forestry management, sustainable conservation, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. Globally, women’s heavy dependence on natural resources and its associated products also means that they often have more at stake than men when these resources are degraded or access to them is denied.   Research[1] shows that when it comes to solving complex problems or innovating, such as solutions for adapting to and mitigating climate change, a diverse group of competent performers almost always outperforms a homogenous group by quite a large margin. The more diverse stakeholders are, the more likely they will still succeed in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity because each person puts things into categories based on his or her background and experience. For example, in the context of climate change forest related initiatives, it can mean the difference between a woman as vulnerable and immobilized or an empowered agent of change.   Therefore, we need to move towards being not only gender-sensitive, but gender-responsive.   Being gender-responsive means that rather than only identify gender issues or work under the “the do not do harm” principle, a process will substantially help to overcome historical gender biases—to “do better,” so to speak—in order for women to truly engage and benefit from these actions. In addition, gender-responsive planned actions should integrate measures for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, foster women’s inclusion and provide equal opportunities for women and men to derive social and economic benefits. With this approach, women and men’s concerns and experiences equally become a fundamental element in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of natural resource-related projects and policies.   Being gender-responsive means going beyond acknowledging gender gaps and really doing something about the discrepancies. A wonderful example of this is in Cameroon, where the African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests (“REFACOF”) is aiming to shift gender norms by creating a network of women involved in sustainable forest resource management.  REFACOF strives to make concrete, meaningful, and effective contributions to forest governance in order to influence national policies and international frameworks regarding women’s rights and tenure in member countries.   Under African customary law, women seldom own or inherit land, and the only way they can access it is by marriage or through their male children. Through its advocacy work, REFACOF has been able to propose articles and forest policies that include women’s interests and ultimately will secure women’s rights in forestry and natural resource management in the coming years. REFACOF has realized some impressive results, specifically in regards to its remarkable progress in reforming national land tenure laws through the lens of gender and REDD+ by presenting women’s legislation for land tenure reform and using REDD+ as a window for opportunity. Now in Cameroon, 30-40 percent women are included in decision-making positions at the village, district, regional, and national levels—contributing toward integrating gender into REDD+ policies and planning, as well as and other processes.   Incredible indeed: if environmental initiatives move beyond acknowledgement and sensitivity to fully embracing and responding to the principles of gender equality and women’s empowerment, they can have an unprecedented impact.   Another way we can become more gender-responsive is by gathering and keeping track of quality data. Reliable...

read more

Countdown for climate action – are 10 days enough?

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Featured, General | 0 comments

Countdown for climate action – are 10 days enough?

The countdown has begun. There are less than five months left before world leaders meet in Paris to make commitments to address climate change and attempt to halt the devastating effects it will continue to have on all humankind.berryjam.ru In advance of this December ‘COP21’ meeting, it is imperative that the elements of an effective, efficient, and equitable gender-responsive climate change framework are in place. From every corner of the planet, clarion calls sound for action and decision making on climate change. Most recently, Pope Francis released the first papal encyclical focused on the environment, Laudato Si. In his letter, he urges the world to engage in a “new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” His voice joins the many women and men of communities, scientists, activists, theologians and civil society groups that have already emphatically spoken out on this issue. In June, IUCN’s Global Gender Office (GGO) representatives attended the intersessional UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany where parties to the climate convention tried to make progress towards a new global agreement. We have been providing input on areas for possible collaboration toward the effective implementation of the climate convention’s gender mandates, to guide the implementation of a two-year programme to promote gender equality and achieve gender-responsive climate policy. We’re also trying to move words into action – international policy frameworks towards on-the-ground strategies which ensure women and men are equally considered, included and empowered within climate change policy, planning and implementation. Feelings in the corridors in Bonn ranged from impatience to desperation. Indeed, there are five months remaining until COP21, but there are less than 10 days of negotiations left – only two more meetings. This is not much time at all to finalise the conditions of the framework and have all Parties agree to implementation. As GGO participated in these crucial discussions about the changing climate, we wondered: Can those most affected by climate change – the poor and the disenfranchised – afford to wait on stalled environmental decisions? What messages of hope and promise for the future can we report back to them? Do we still have time to change the course of our environment or is it too late to undo the damage we’ve already inflicted? In ‘Laudato Si’ Pope Francis references women 11 times, underscoring the importance of their inclusion and untapped potential in finding solutions to the negative effects of climate change. His words express what lies at the heart of GGO’s work: “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited.”...

read more

A Strong Beginning Makes Way for Improved Results: Equality in Climate Finance Mechanisms

Posted by on May 16, 2015 in Featured, General | 0 comments

A Strong Beginning Makes Way for Improved Results: Equality in Climate Finance Mechanisms

Climate change is happening now and it’s happening globally–it affects everyone everywhere. However, climate change will not affect everyone equally. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states in its 2014 fifth official report, and as countless studies and projects have subsequently affirmed, the impacts of a changing climate will be differential–and gender will be one of the specific factors that determines acute vulnerability and ability to cope. Enabling environments for resilience demand the full participation of women and men alike and the full respect for both women’s and men’s needs and capacities. Likewise, the financial mechanisms supporting climate change action must be responsive to diverse communities’ needs. Historically, climate finance has had limited focus on and benefit for the poorest and most disadvantaged populations within developing countries, and for women in particular. This exacerbates vulnerability and climate injustice, overall reducing the resilience of nations to the impacts of climate change. However, a milestone was achieved this spring when the Green Climate Fund (GCF) became the first multilateral climate fund to recognize women’s vital role in the fight to combat climate change–before dispersing funds. The GCF is the first multilateral climate finance mechanism to have a “gender-sensitive approach” mandated before operationalization, and as of the March 2015 Board Meeting, it has met those expectations. With the approval of the GCF Gender Policy and Action Plan at the March 2015 Board Meeting, a gender-sensitive approach is now in place before the first round of projects will be approved. This unprecedented approach is now a part of the guiding principles of the GCF governing instrument and support its initiation as a fund that will shift previous expectations for climate finance mechanisms. Research shows that when it comes to solving complex problems or innovating, a diverse group of competent performers almost always outperforms a homogenous group by a significant margin. The more diverse stakeholders are, the more likely it is that they will still succeed in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity because each person categorizes based on his or her background and experience. In the context of climate financing mechanisms, this can mean the difference between a woman as vulnerable and immobilized or an empowered agent of change. Often, due to a wide and persistent web of structural barriers–such as access to land tenure and credit, as well as societal norms, including traditional gendered divisions of labour and limitations for participation in decision-making processes and bodies–women tend to be at a marked disadvantage, particularly in terms of receiving climate financing, yet they are among the most-affected by the worsening effects of climate change. However, smart climate financing can boost the climate response effort while improving women’s lives, it can ensure more sustainable, environmental outcomes, and most importantly, it can transform women into change agents in relation to climate change solutions.   Approval of the gender policy and the gender-sensitive approach in the GCF will support the need for gender-balance in the decision-making bodies, but also, and perhaps more importantly, it will drive opportunities for gender to be considered, and responded to, throughout project cycles from planning to implementation, as well as securing methods for monitoring and evaluating the results and learning from these. Women have tremendous knowledge of their local communities and environments, and their invaluable insight and experience can transform national norms. For example, in...

read more

Energy Equality on Earth Day

Posted by on Apr 18, 2015 in Featured, General | 0 comments

Energy Equality on Earth Day

Each year, on April 22, people from across the globe gather to celebrate the environment, the protection of our ecosystems and all of the benefits that natural resources provide on Earth Day. This year, the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, I would like to pause and look specifically at the relationship between equality, energy and the environment. Throughout IUCN Global Gender Office’s (GGO) work on energy, one of our resounding messages has been that women must be a part of the economic, social and political transformations that come with a transition to a clean energy future. This will not only empower women, but also allow them to participate as agents of change — innovators, designers, practitioners and educators — rather than merely recipients. For more than two years now, GGO has been looking at the need to build new knowledge and guidance at the intersection of gender and large-scale renewable energy. Women often possess special skills and experiences relevant to coping with and combatting the environment’s changing climate, especially knowledge of local ecosystems, agriculture and natural resources management. Women hold great potential as entrepreneurs in clean technology and ecofriendly enterprises. Women are also disproportionately vulnerable to the hazardous effects of climate change and are often left out of technological development. The energy industry remains one of the most gender imbalanced sectors. In the non-renewable energy arenas, such as oil and gas, women’s employment makes up 10 to 20% of the sector. However, women’s employment rates in wind, solar, wave and other renewable energies are higher–at over 25 percent. Climate change interventions generally, and clean technology initiatives specifically, are unlikely to be successful without the support and involvement of women. Women must be at the forefront of the earth’s clean energy future. Evidence from other sectors suggests that integrating women into all levels of the energy value chain will lead to more effective clean energy initiatives, unlock greater return on investments, increase sustainability and expand the opportunities of reducing emissions. Research at the nexus of gender and development demonstrates the benefits of addressing gender and the drawbacks of not doing so. These lessons could be applied to the clean energy sector: – Development outcomes and economic outcomes are enhanced through improving women’s status: The clean energy sector stands to benefit from, and should contribute to, improvements in women’s status. Efforts to expand clean energy with a development lens should also adopt a gender-sensitive perspective. – Gender balance in employment is a good business practice: Skilled people are needed for clean energy research and investments; education is key for developing those skills, and with an eye towards the future, the educated will increasingly be women, yet not necessarily enrolling and participating in STEM fields. – Gender-neutral projects are not likely to achieve the desired outcome: According to the European Commission, “policy decisions that appear gender neutral may have a differential impact on women and men, even when such an effect was neither intended nor envisaged” – this is particularly relevant to bulk energy increases through large-scale clean energy projects. – Women face massive income inequality: Women remain the poorest of the poor, particularly from an income perspective. In order to address these gaps, women should be targeted for access to training, education and equal wages — particularly in relation to advancement in the clean energy sector. The new...

read more

Environment and Gender Index Data Reveal Women’s Rights Make a Difference

Posted by on Mar 10, 2015 in Featured, General, Untold Stories | 0 comments

Environment and Gender Index Data Reveal Women’s Rights Make a Difference

Every year on March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD), the global community comes together to champion the rights of women, marking an opportunity to not just commemorate women, women’s achievements and progress toward equality, but to also take stock — to carefully study the gains made and to dig deeper into the challenges. Women continue to play an integral role in addressing the complex challenges our world faces on a daily basis — but data shows our contributions as women are still undervalued. First celebrated in the early 1900s, this year’s IWD also recognizes the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) — a key global framework agreed to advance women’s rights and make comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern, one of them being the environment. Two decades later, BPfA remains an inspirational roadmap, illuminating the path toward a more just world, a path on which many significant steps have been taken. But how far have we come? The theme for this year’s IWD is “Make It Happen,” but how can we make it happen without tangible data to measure results? Reliable, well-founded data is essential for smart, evidence-based policy and for implementing commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment, not least in relation to the environment. However, there is a lack of accountability and monitoring mechanisms. The IUCN Global Gender Office (GGO) has endeavored to address some of these gaps by developing a monitoring mechanism that holds institutions, countries, and conventions accountable with our Environment and Gender Index (EGI). A composite index, the EGI is the first-ever tool to track progress toward gender equality in the context of global environmental governance. Its pilot phase ranked 73 countries worldwide, along 27 dimensions, divided into six categories (Livelihood, Ecosystem, Gender-based Rights and Participation, Governance, Gender-based Education and Assets, and Country-Reported Activities) and revealed interesting strengths, weaknesses and relationships amongst ranked countries and variables, such as: – Poland ranked the highest worldwide in the ecosystem category, but lowest in the livelihood category in the region. – Liberia scored in the top tier of countries where women have equal access to credit, land and property, so does Algeria. – Jamaica ranked highest worldwide on number of women legislators, managers and senior officials. – Sweden ranked highest for number of women in policy-making positions. – Mongolia was the top performer overall in the Asian region and ranks extremely high globally, but is low on women in policy-making positions and protection of property rights. Over the past 20, 50, even 100 years, the world has made great strides when it comes to empowering women, but we have not yet reached gender equality. As we continue to move forward, gender-related actions need robust tools to inform policy and decisions and continue to identify persisting gaps. GGO is pleased to be collaborating with UN Women to create new data sets on women’s participation in environmental decision making. This research finds that women still have less access to environmental decision-making spheres at all levels. The newest database — which compiles indicators on women’s involvement in international environmental delegations and leadership of large environmental institutions, green parties and environmental ministries at the national level — shows specifically where women’s leadership has advanced, and where more progress is needed. For example, new EGI findings include:...

read more

What it really means to act “like a girl”

Posted by on Feb 17, 2015 in Featured, General, Untold Stories | 0 comments

What it really means to act “like a girl”

Super Bowl XLIX drew a historic 114.5 million viewers this February, which means that millions and millions of men, women, boys, and girls saw Always’ powerful “Like a Girl” commercial. For those who missed it, the “Like a Girl” ad, and associated #LikeAGirl campaign, highlighted how vulnerable girls become as they enter adolescence and the challenges they face moving forward in maintaining self-confidence and equality with men, particularly in the athletic arena. When I saw this advertisement, I couldn’t help but think about Ana Guevara, the Mexican track and field athlete who specialised in the 400 meters and became a role model for women and girls throughout Latin America and around the world in the late 90s. During the 2004 summer Olympics in Greece, Mexico City was plastered with signs of Ana. In one of them, a young man smiled next to Ana and read, “Tell me I run like a girl. Thanks Ana.” Another poster depicted a chubby boy looking suspiciously at the camera and the text said: “Are all the girls so fast? Thanks Ana.” An additional poster in the series portrayed an adult male with the caption: “I remember when women were slow. Thank you Ana.” Ana is an awe-inspiring role model and illustration of female athletic prowess, yet there are many other positive, influential examples of what it means to do things “like a girl” that are crucial to the success of families, communities, and nations—particularly in developing countries. Women have specific roles and responsibilities that provide them learned behaviors and knowledge of their local resources and environment. Women make up 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries and account for an estimated two-thirds of the world’s 600 million poor livestock keepers. Women and girls collect water for their families and homesteads, globally spending 140 million hours each day to secure clean water used for essential cooking and drinking. Women’s knowledge of non-timber forest products, particularly medicinal plants and alternative food sources, means that a higher percentage of plants have been identified as edible and disease cures. Throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, women are poised to lead in small-scale energy entrepreneurship. There are many different ways to act “like a girl” that are indisputably more vital for human well being than running or throwing a ball. While these actions that women take on around the world—in addition to their daily household duties—are impressive, only 1% of women agricultural workers own land; women are increasingly at risk of sexual discrimination and violence as they traverse farther distances to collect clean water; women are not regarded as pertinent stakeholders in forestry and medicine/health sectors; and the world’s financing mechanisms do not yet reach their small businesses and ideas. These practices and experiences are what make women increasingly resilient and able to more readily adapt to changing environments, however, they are not given a voice, they do not sit at the decision-making tables, and their knowledge is not valued. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are prerequisites for sustainable development and a just world, yet to act “like a girl” often is a dangerous and limiting label. For example, –       In some countries, newborn females rarely get formally registered in an official system. Since babies are typically born at home, one of the parents needs to...

read more