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Africa advancing and augmenting the UNFCCC Lima Work Programme on Gender

Work continues on the Lima Work Programme on Gender which focuses on stronger representation of women in climate change and agriculture policy conversations. Photo Credit: V. Atakos (CCAFS)
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Oct 6, 2016


Mary Nyasimi (CCAFS), Kathlee Freeman (CCAFS), and Susy Wandera (SUSWATCH)


Ahead of this year’s COP, several groups have met to work on the Lima Work Programme on Gender.

Since COP20, the two year Lima Work Program on Gender has provided parties and observer organizations an opportunity for understanding the integration of gender considerations into climate change policies and capacity building. However, continued engagement on gender and climate change in the UNFCCC (that needs to cascade down to national levels) is required. This calls for a longer work programme on gender mainstreaming, gender integration, gender enhancement to augment the work that is underway.” Winfred Lichuma, Commissioner, Kenya National Gender and Equality Commission

Globally, the disparate impact of climate change means that the world’s poor and vulnerable, like many of those living in Africa, will be hardest hit by volatile weather events such as drought and floods. Given the heavy economic and social impacts of these extreme weather events, the need and urgency of climate change has been at the forefront of international policy conversations. The Paris Agreement, which is perhaps the most high profile policy concerning climate change, has been called a “historic turning point” by France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and “a victory for all of the planet and for future generations” by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry. The agreement, which was negotiated at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015, includes the call to halt the rise in average global temperatures to less than 2°C and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Also written into the agreement is the need to implement these changes within a sustainable development context.    

In Africa, where livelihoods and food security are inextricably linked to agriculture and natural resources, sustainability must be an instrumental component of climate change policy. Gender-inclusive policies must also be a high priority given that agriculture is especially important for the livelihoods of women, youth and other vulnerable groups. For example, women in hard-hit agriculture areas are less likely than men to migrate to find work due to their household and childcare duties and are less likely to have access to cash and credit lines during times of extreme weather events. Recognizing the unique impact that climate change will have on women and the African continent, the African Working Group on Gender and Climate Change (AWGGCC), in partnership with the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), with support from the Gender and Social Inclusion program of the CGIAR Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) are working to continue and advance the Lima Work Programme on Gender (LWPG) during the upcoming 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) that will be held from 7 to 18 November 2016 and beyond.

The LWPG, which has been in effect for the past 2 years, encourages the participation of women in policy decisions at all levels and advocates for gender-inclusive climate change policies. In the two years since the LWPG was implemented, notable achievements have been made. A greater percentage of women are participating in UNFCCC meetings, including the Subsidiary Bodies (SBs) and Conference of Parties (COP), linkages between climate change and gender have been enhanced, and some of the delegates have received training in gender-inclusive policy.

For the past 2 years, there has been slow progress towards achieving gender balance in delegations and bodies under the convention.” Stella Gama Department of Forestry, Malawi

The AGN and AWGGCC notes, however, that there is still room for improvement. African women still lack representation in key leadership roles, a lack of understanding of gender concepts remains pervasive, and consideration for gender in analysis, budgets, and data collection is limited. For example, the number of women attending intersession and COP meetings remains at below 40% as evidenced by the recent Reports on Gender Composition by the Secretariat including FCCC/CP/2015/6, FCCC/CP/2014/7, and FCCC/CP/2013/4.

The LWPG has faced some challenges including, a lack of formal workstream for developing and implementing training skills, continued lack of clarity over the definition of the term gender responsive, slow progress in achieving gender balance and inadequate financing for LWPG.” Priscilla Achapka, Executive Director of Women Environment Program, Nigeria

At a recent meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya representatives from both AWGGCC and AGN worked to draft a document that identified the key elements and guiding principles for gender-inclusive climate change policies for Africa and increase participation of female delegates in meetings as well as leadership roles within UNFCCC. These key elements can build on the recent achievements of the LWP.

The key elements are:

  1. Strengthening the capacity of the UNFCCC gender focal point within the secretariat
  2. Development of a gender and climate change implementation framework with a monitoring and evaluation plan (having clear indicators with sex-disaggregated data for all reporting and implementation)
  3. Parties to appoint a gender focal point in each country
  4. Continuous training and capacity building at global, regional, national and sub-national levels on integration of gender and climate change targeting male and female negotiators and delegates in the UNFCCC processes
  5. Adequate and dedicated financial resources for implementing a gender program at global, regional and country level
  6. Further the work on the goal of gender balance with a view to achieving gender parity
  7. Convening of the gender forum at SBs and COP
  8. Referring to the gaps and challenges identified in the technical paper on guidelines to integrate gender related activities, urge the UNFCCC Secretariat to identify and communicate solutions and further to guide the process for implementation.

The drafted document will be part of a larger focus on gender and policy and showcased at a side event in Marrakech, Morocco during COP22. The AGN and AWGGCC hopes that understanding the impact that policy decisions will have on women’s livelihoods is not only important for women, but for their families and communities as a whole. Finally, women should also be given equal space to take part in the global, regional and national level conversations.

We need to have well-trained women, men and youth participating in designing and implementing gender responsive climate change polices.” Winfred Masiko, Member of Parliament, Uganda