On Saturday, 11th of November, the Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st) and women Environment Program facilitated a skill share session on the theme: “Breaking Patriarchal Barriers for Gender Sensitive Climate Change Initiative.” The side event, which was hosted by the Global Climate Change Alliance (GGCA) Innovations Forum was attended by women and men across the globe, who participated and shared their experiences on patriarchal challenges they have in course of implementing climate change projects in the local and national context.
Climate change affects everyone, yet women among other vulnerable groups in developing and least developed countries bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change. While it is now important to start looking at ways to reduce the negative effects of climate change on women, attention is drawn to the challenges thrown up by patriarchy at different levels of climate governance. Either at the community or the global climate policy level, patriarchy continue to constitute a stumbling block to a gender just climate policy and interventions.
In many societies, it is a big challenge to have access to women without negotiating with community leaders who are mostly males. It is acknowledged that decision making positions and authority lies with men.Patriarchy is a system issue which manifest in almost every facet of societal life. Majority of women and men are recruited and socialized into It.
The kind of barriers posed by patriarchy for women includes inadequate access to information, limited opportunity for aspiring to decision making positions, lack of voice, representation and participation, to mention a few. Of course, these barriers in most cases leave women vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
At the global policy levels, the barriers manifest in a different form though it is still linked to patriarchal challenges identified at the local levels and the different processes. The issues of developed and the developing countries take the centre stage, women and gender issues are perceived as less important to other pressing issues of climate finance, emissions reductions and technology transfer.
However, these perceived pressing issues are issues that are not gender neutral, it affects men and women. For instance, women need climate finance to trickle down to the local levels where climate change is biting harder. Lack of finance and feminized poverty inhibits women’s adaptation to the impacts of climate change. Equally, risky and unsafe technologies must be avoided in mitigating climate change. Thus, women and gender have a place in all the issues being negotiated under the UNFCCC.
As noted by the skill share facilitator, Ms Titi Akosa and other participants – ‘the patriarchal issue is a system issue and thus needs a system change to correct.
While finding ways to break barriers, women must not see it as a battle-line between men and women but as a negotiation process for change. Women should be firm but subtle about breaking barriers and push the issues of women empowerment forward.
There is need for aggressive awareness about patriarchy, its effects on women and the society at large; and its interconnections with climate change at all levels. Women should endeavour to work in unity and collaborate with men in delivering gender responsive climate projects.
The experiences garnered by the facilitator as one of the women climate justice advocates supported by Women Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), advocating on behalf of women and gender in the processes leading to securing the Paris Agreement was very insightful. The facilitator and other women climate justice advocates engaged negotiators with women’s key demands, provided gender responsive texts and shared perspectives on the importance of gender just climate policy. These are best practices in women supporting each other to raise awareness in advancing women and gender issues in the negotiations.
It must however be noted that gender and women responsive climate initiatives may not always break barriers posed by patriarchy. This is very possible if projects are not well articulated to have impacts on gender relations and or aimed specifically to target barriers imposed by patriarchy against women.
Participants agreed that there is need for a deeper appreciation of the challenges imposed by patriarchy and that the challenges should be dealt with in an integrated manner to engender a supportive environment for gender equality to thrive.
Daisy Alero Emoekabu
Climate Policy Researcher,
University of Kent, U. K .