Two students share their experiences of the workshop led by GRRIPP and Womenvai on integrating gender equality into climate change policy.
On the 29th of September, GRRIPP teamed up with Womenvai, an NGO that engineers smart solutions in combating gender inequality, to organise another induction workshop. This one focused on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Conference of Parties (COP) looking at previous resolutions and how we can put gender at the forefront of policies this year.
Two students have written up their thoughts on the important issue and on the workshop:
Akshatha Giridhar is a 3rd year International Social and Public Policy and Economics student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is passionate about Development Economics and aspires to get into the field of research and contribute towards finding sustainable solutions to addressing poverty and income inequality.
Women have been particularly disadvantaged in climate policy due to being more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the lack of gender-specific policies. With the COP 28 comes the opportunity to highlight the need for conversations around the gendered impacts of climate change, and ‘Putting Gender on the COP 28 agenda’ did exactly that.
the workshop brought together people from different backgrounds – from undergraduate students to people working in climate policy
The workshop started with a presentation on the history of climate policies and the gendered impacts of climate change. Professor Peter Sammonds, professor of Geophysics and Climate Risks at UCL gave a very insightful presentation on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Intersectionality, and the dire need for policies to address the same. Following that, I gave a brief presentation on my research on microfinance and its implications on gender empowerment and climate resilience. This was based on my research internship with Arumbugal Trust, an NGO in rural South India.
.... from addressing the rise of UTIs in refugee camps to increasing financial access for women
After the presentations, we went into groups to discuss projects and policies that address gender challenges in addressing climate change through the themes of COP 28 – namely technology and innovation, inclusion, frontline communities, and finance. What I particularly enjoyed about the discussions is that the workshop brought together people from different backgrounds – from undergraduate students to people working in climate policy. Therefore, the discussions included very diverse and innovative perspectives and policy ideas to increase the focus in climate policies on gender – from addressing the rise of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in refugee camps to increasing financial access for women.
COVID-19 has been a major bump in our progress towards achieving the SDGs. With the impacts of climate change exacerbating by the day, the need for COP 28 to emphasise gender in its policies is key to ensuring resilience of all. As an attendee of the workshop, I hope that more people converse on and advocate for this issue to push policies addressing gender inequality in the impacts of climate change.
Peniel Ibe is currently studying for an MSc in Risk, Disaster and Resilience at the Institute of Risk and Disaster Resilience (IRDR) at the University College London (UCL). Peniel has led strategies and campaigns to coordinate grassroots economic and climate justice engagement to impact policy change. She is particularly interested in how societies include vulnerable and marginalized communities in climate disaster mitigation and adaptation.
The agenda at the UNFCC COPs is constantly growing, with many interest groups seeking to either take specific issues off the table or encourage negotiators to pay closer attention to other aspects of climate change. As we head into COP 28, reflecting on the key takeaways from COP 27 that the advocates hope to see on this year’s agenda was helpful. But even more impactful was discussing how we can apply a gender lens to truly move our effort in addressing climate change to be not one of mere action, but towards climate justice. Climate Justice does not exist without gender justice.
Through new concepts learned at the workshop, we could discuss how to address the nexus of climate change and food and agriculture systems through a gender lens.
During the workshop, as we built familiarity with the presented concepts, we discussed briefly how food and agriculture systems are coming under more scrutiny at the COP. Communities worldwide are paying closer attention to how their food systems fit into the global landscape - trying to understand its implications for the climate and the consequences of climate change on it. For example, in the United States, the laws that govern food and agriculture systems are up for reauthorization this year, causing advocates to examine the policy through the lens of the U.S. commitments to international climate agreements. Food and agriculture systems comprise significant portions of emissions in the nations with the highest greenhouse gas, like the U.S. In the U.S., at least 11% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the food and agriculture systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land (2019) estimated that, globally, 8.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions came from our food and agriculture systems. The IPCC also estimated that when looking at food-related land use activities like deforestation for food production, that number rose to 14.5%.
Women are integral to the entire food system - from land to the plate
Through new concepts learned at the workshop, like the integration of a gender perspective as a continuum, we could discuss how to address the nexus of climate change and food and agriculture systems through a gender lens. Across the world, gender dynamics are determining womens’ roles in the food and agriculture systems. Women are integral to the entire food system - from land to the plate - and should be involved in solutions that reduce our food system's impact on the climate. The disproportionate effects of climate change across genders are evident in the food and agriculture sector, where women feel first-hand the limitations of our food systems when confronted with climate change. Ongoing GRRIPP projects in the Latin America and Caribbean region are working to include a gender approach in Local Climate Change Adaptations Plans.
With the knowledge gained in the workshop, we could suggest a project that went beyond being gender sensitive
In our breakout groups, we were tasked to review the other key takeaways from COP 27 and draft a mock project or policy, ensuring that we incorporated a gender perspective in our proposal. We explored a pilot project based on a policy that trained women in communities in El Salvador who worked to end the metal mining industry that was harming their water supply and compromising food security to be part of a "resilience force". We suggested that they be trained in technical skills for reinforcing the safety of homes in the face of tropical storms or hurricanes and going further to learn marketable skills to join in rebuilding communities affected by these extreme weather events. We wanted to ensure that women were part of the "just transition" by providing work opportunities that didn't rely on harmful extractive industries. With the knowledge gained in the workshop, we could suggest a project that went beyond being gender sensitive and instead offered a project that built on existing gender transformative efforts championed by women in our region of focus.
In conclusion, we acknowledged that a significant gender analysis is not just in the outcome of COP but also in the processes and participants that influence and produce desired results. From IPCC scientists to country negotiators and observers, we must ensure that we are conscious of the gender dynamics that inherently influence the outcomes at COP.
We were delighted with the contributions that all attendees made in this workshop and will use this discussion to write a report to take to COP 28 highlighting the need to take gender equality seriously when formulating new climate policies. We want to keep this conversation going and are excited for more GRRIPP collaborations with external stakeholders. We are excited to see GRRIPP have a legacy in the impressive gender-responsive action plans shown by students and their strong advocacy for gender equality.
Dr Zahra Khan is the Outreach and Research Assistant at GRRIPP. She holds a PhD in Chemistry and works closely with Prof. Peter Sammonds (UCL) to influence policy regarding gender responsive resilience. Zahra coordinates events to widen GRRIPP participation across all disciplines, with the aim to bridge the gap between STEM subjects and social sciences.