What We Are Reading: April 2022

JAISALMER,INDIA - November 9,2014 : Unidentified women draw water form the well and take it to their home in rural ares of Jaisalmer, India.

Written by: Beth Woroniuk

Last month at the United Nations, governments and activists assembled – some in-person, many virtually – for the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This year’s theme was: Climate Change, Environment, Disaster Risk Reduction: Gender Equality at the Centre of Solutions

In preparation for these discussions, organizations released new reports, research, and analysis. This month’s What We’re Reading profiles three worth reading.

Report: Development Finance for Gender-Responsive Climate Action. OECD Development Co-operation Directorate (March 2022)

Timed to inform CSW discussions, the OECD-DAC’s GenderNet released its latest analysis of official development assistance (ODA) from a gender perspective in March.

These valuable reports analyze OECD-DAC members’ ODA spending based on self-reported data using the gender equality marker.  This report explores how climate finance investments are tracked and reported on, reviews investments by sector, donor, and recipient, and provides examples of initiatives that bring climate and gender equality objectives together.

Key findings include:

  • Overall ODA dedicated to climate finance is increasing (USD 33.1 billion average per year for 2018-2019), as is the percentage of climate finance that is considered to “integrate gender equality” (USD 18.9 billion or 57%). Interestingly only 45% of all bilateral ODA “integrates gender equality,” so the climate finance sector includes relatively more ‘gender equality integrated’ aid than other sectors.
  • However, climate finance that is dedicated to gender equality as the ‘principal’ objective is “nearly non-existent”. In 2018-2019, it was USD 778 million or a little over 0.04% of all climate-related ODA. By comparison, across all sectors, just under 4% of the ‘screened’ ODA was considered  ‘principal’. 
  • Out of ODA channeled through CSOs (USD 2.4 billion), only USD 43 million went to ‘feminist, women-led and women’s rights organizations and institutions.”

These are stark figures. 

The numbers clearly demonstrate the need for campaigns such as the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action’s (GAGGA) Call to Action for Gender-Just Climate Finance. GAGGA and Global Greengrants Fund (GGF) have launched a campaign to mobilize more and equitable funding (USD100M over 5 years) to feminist action for climate justice, prioritizing the full diversity of women and girl-led, grassroots organizations in the Global South leading environmental and climate action.

For more background on the OECD-DAC’s gender equality markers, check out Publish What You Fund’s Gender Financing initiative.

Although this report is very dry and full of UN-speak, it provides a useful review of issues and data. It looks at climate change, environmental degradation, and disaster risk reduction through a gender equality (if not totally feminist) lens.

The document starts with an overview of the gendered impacts of climate change summarizing the terrifying global context and outlining how the current trends “reinforce and magnify existing gender inequalities.” Growing deficits in decent work for women, gender-based violence, increased unpaid care work, curtailment of sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the growing violence faced by women land defenders are among the many impacts.

The document goes on to review current normative frameworks, opportunities to improve policy frameworks, and expanding gender-responsive climate finance. It has a brief section on women’s participation and a long section on “building the resilience of women.” The need for improved data and monitoring of global commitments is highlighted and the report ends with conclusions and recommendations (primarily aimed at the CSW discussions).

While there are a few references to how women, girls, and LGBTQI+ people are organizing around climate issues, one of the major gaps in the report is the scant discussion on how feminist movements and women-led climate justice organizations are mobilizing and looking for solutions.  There is a paragraph (31) on women’s civil society organizations that notes multiple barriers they experience (shrinking democratic space, diminished funding, and threats to security) and a key recommendation: increase public and private financing to women’s organizations and enterprises for climate change, environment and disaster risk reduction initiatives.  However, a higher profile for these issues would have been welcome.

Article: Gender, Climate Change, and Security: Making the Connections by Chantale de Jonge Oudraat and Michael E. Brown.  Adelphi/Wilson Center (January 2022)

Gender issues/inequalities, climate change, and security threats are complex and inter-related, yet the connections and inter-relationships among these three areas are under-explored and often ignored by both policy makers and researchers.  Where connections have been made, it is primarily by gender scholars and feminist activists, rather than the climate or security communities.  So argue de Jonge Oudraat and Brown in this well set out article from earlier this year.

Given this lack of analysis, the authors point out that “the gender dimensions of security and climate issues are usually not understood, prioritized, integrated, or even considered in security and climate policy packages.”

de Jonge Oudraat and Brown provide a solid base to advance understanding of the climate/gender/security nexus with overviews of the issues. They explore three sets of challenges: “(1) simplistic and misguided understandings of gender; (2) siloed policy analysis and policy development; and (3) shady policy implementation including the commitment of insufficient resources to gender priorities.”

The article ends with a call for more nuanced gender analysis, including more attention to “how ideas about masculinity and male behavior shape gender relations, the environment, and security problems.”

Other documents on related themes that caught our eye this month include:

DCAF- Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance. Women Speak: The Lived Nexus Between Climate, Gender and Security. 2022.

And don’t forget to check out what we’ve been working on: In advance of November 2021’s COP26, we were honoured to convene Global South feminist activists to share their crucial perspectives and recommendations, here, at and beyond COP26. For CSW66, we co-hosted a dynamic conversation on climate finance for feminist activism, full recording here and highlights here

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