Gender and Environment and Energy

While changes in the environment affect everyone, they affect men and women differently. Women’s and girls’ traditional responsibilities as food growers, water and fuel gatherers, and caregivers connect them closely to available natural resources and the climate, making them more likely to be impacted by  environmental hardships. Due to longstanding inequalities that silence their voices and neglect their needs, poor women are also disproportionately impacted by increasingly longer droughts, more severe storms and flooding, species depletion, soil degradation, deforestation, and other negative environmental changes. Identifying and addressing women’s and men’s needs, as well as  promoting women as decision makers, are critical elements to ensuring the success of environmental policy and programming.

Women are not only victims of climate change and environmental degradation, however. They also possess knowledge and skills that are critical to finding local solutions to environmental challenges. Experience shows that the resiliency of households and communities depends greatly on the resiliency of women. Environmental policies, programmes and finance, therefore, should incorporate and benefit from this know-how, while also supporting women as they face today’s unprecedented environmental challenges.  Given the requisite tools and support, women are a driving force for a new model of growth which is both more equitable and sustainable.

To assist and empower poor women and men, UNDP helps governments and other partners to:

  • Include women in environmental planning, finance, budgeting, and policy-making processes;
  • Deliver energy and environment services, such as clean water and mechanized power, to poor women;
  • Leverage financing for women’s organizations and entrepreneurs working to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change;
  • Harness women’s local knowledge to protect, sustain and manage the environment and its resources.
  • Identify win-win opportunities that link policies for gender equality and the environment with more equitable forms of growth.   

PROJECTS AND INITIATIVES

Global Gender and Climate Alliance

The Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) was launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007 by IUNDP, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization. The GGCA works to ensure that climate change policies, decision-making and initiatives at the global, regional, and national levels are gender responsive. Thanks in part to generous funding from the governments of Finland and Denmark, the GGCA has grown to include nearly 40 United Nations and civil society organizations and has been recognized as a unique and effective partnership that is bringing a human face to climate change decision-making and initiatives. More

Women’s Green Business Initiative

The Women’s Green Business Initiative (WGBI) is an innovative global programme designed to promote women’s employment and entrepreneurship opportunities around the green economy and related climate change responses. The WGBI builds capacities by providing training, advisory services and business networks to support women entrepreneurs and workers and women’s organizations. The WGBI also increases women’s access to climate change funds, creates opportunities for new business enterprises, and promotes and supports government efforts to create conducive policy environments for women’s green businesses.

UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme

For almost two decades, the Small Grants Programme (SGP) has been supporting projects of non-governmental and community-based organizations in developing countries. With presence in 122 countries and more than 12,000 grants awarded worldwide, the programme covers such areas as adaptation, conservation of biodiversity, protection of international waters, reduction of the impact of persistent organic pollutants and prevention of land degradation. The SGP integrates a gender perspective into environmental protection at the earliest stages of project implementation, and men and women participate in all stages of project design, approval and implementation. Gender equality is one of the main criteria considered for the approval of grants. In the south of Benin, for example, the programme is helping village women to find easier access to credit and providing training on more efficient, environmentally-friendly oyster farming techniques. More

Multifunctional Platforms – Rural Energy means more productive time for women

UNDP – in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Governments of Burkina Faso and Luxembourg, the Shell Foundation and Aarhus United – introduced 600 multifunctional platform generators in countries across West Africa – Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, to help reduce poverty in rural communities, especially for women.  These rural agro-enterprises are providing electricity for light and mechanizing laborious tasks, such as grinding grain. More

Africa Adaptation Programme

Under this programme, UNDP is assisting 20 African countries in implementing integrated and comprehensive climate change adaptation actions and resilience plans. The projects are designed to ensure that national development processes incorporate climate change risks and opportunities to secure development gains. UNDP is helping countries develop capacity to design, finance, implement and monitor long-term and cost-effective adaptation policies and plans.  The AAP has made gender equality an important goal in each of its participating countries. To promote equitable and gender-sensitive adaptation to climate change, the AAP is actively supporting countries to increase their capacities to integrate a gender perspective into both the design and implementation of climate change strategies and national development plans. More information is available here and here.

Community Based Adaptation

Through the UNDP Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) initiative, UNDP has spearheaded local level adaptation work.  Just as different communities are distinctively affected by climate change impacts, different groups within a single community have their own unique vulnerabilities. Women, in particular, can be disproportionately affected by climate change impacts. UNDP, in collaboration with Small Grants Programme is implementing CBA initiative to reduce vulnerability and increase adaptive capacity to the adverse effects of climate change, building the resilience of communities, ecosystems, and resource-dependant livelihoods in the face of climate change. More information is available here and here.

PARTNERS

Gender and Water Alliance

The Gender and Water Alliance (GWA) promotes  women’s and men’s equitable access to and management of safe and adequate water, for domestic supply, sanitation, food security and environmental sustainability. The GWA believes that equitable access to and control over water is not only a basic right for all, but also critical to eradicating poverty eradication and promoting sustainability. The GWA has partnered with the UNDP Water governance programme to update the CD Rom Resource Guide on Mainstreaming Gender in Water Resources Management, to promote the development of information and knowledge, and to collect local inputs for the next phase of the Community Water Initiative. More

GROOTS

GROOTS operates as a flexible network linking leaders and groups in poor rural and urban areas in the South and the North. To nurture relationships of mutual support and solidarity among women engaged in redeveloping their communities, the network is open to grassroots groups and their partners. More

ENERGIA

ENERGIA, founded in 1996, is the international network on gender and sustainable energy.. The network works in Africa and Asia through and with their regional and national gender and energy networks. ENERGIA works from the contention that projects, programmes and policies that explicitly address gender and energy issues will result in better outcomes, in terms of the sustainability of energy services as well as human development opportunities available to women and men. More

 

Did you know?
  • Women in sub-Saharan Africa spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water. This is equivalent to a year’s worth of labor by the entire workforce in France.
  • Increased water stress and water insecurity in many countries means that women and young girls have to walk further to collect water. In times of drought, a greater work load is placed on women’s shoulders, some spending up to eight hours a day in search of water.  In Kenya, for example, fetching water may use up to 85 percent of a woman’s daily energy intake.
  • In the Bangladesh cyclone and flood of 1991, the death rate among women aged 20-44 was 71 per 1000, compared to 15 per 1000 for men.
UNDP in Action
  • Over 150 women and their families on Benin's coastal lagoon have directly benefitted a a UNDP programme engaging women in more sustainable and time-efficient oyster production and providing access to financial credit and skills.
  • A climate change project in Peru has constructed 20,000 low emission stoves that will not only improve air quality within homes, but will also require less wood, translating into less time spent collecting fuel—an activity for which women and girls are frequently responsible.
  • As a result of UNDP and other partners’ multifunctional platform initiative in West Africa women in Burkina Faso are now saving two to six hours per day on domestic chores. The average literacy rate has also increased from 29 percent to 39 percent in 14 villages, as the electricity enables women and girls to study during evening hours.