A recent info note examines both the progress and work that still needs to be done to achieve gender-inclusive climate change policies in Tanzania.
The impact of climate change is already observable, with scientists recording events, such as droughts, that are more frequent and longer lasting, rising sea levels, and shrinking glaciers. The effects of a changing climate will most likely become more dramatic as experts warn that the increase in worldwide temperatures shows no signs of slowing down. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a global consortium of scientists, estimates that over the next century temperatures will rise another 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
While these changes will impact the global population, those living in developing countries are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Women, especially, face the dual issues of reliance on natural resources for livelihoods and food security, and political, social, and economic obstacles to adaptation. Climate change piles on labor burdens for women as they often have to walk further to collect water and firewood. Women also face limited mobility due to their household and child rearing responsibilities, preventing them from migrating to areas that might provide more economic opportunities.
Gender mainstreaming progress in Tanzania
To address these vulnerabilities, gender advocates have called for specific policy provisions that are focused on eliminating gender inequalities. Gender mainstreaming, or the process of assessing the differing consequences of public policy on men and women, is one such method of doing this. Recently released research from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) examines such gender provisions in fourteen Tanzanian policies related to agriculture and the environment.
The researchers note that, while Tanzania is indeed making progress towards achieving gender-inclusive policies, there are key areas of improvement that are still needed. For instance, while gender constraints are identified by a number of recent policies, the policy solutions are often not aligned with these issues. Clearer strategies would allow policy-makers to move past the simple recognition that climate change will affect men and women differently and push for policy solutions that substantially close gender gaps.
Given the significant number of women that are dependent on agriculture-based livelihoods, a planning framework which coordinates policy efforts across agriculture and natural resource management policies is also sorely needed. This framework could organize efforts across sectors and policies and further encourage gender integration into new climate change and other related policies.
The researchers also report that, in the Tanzanian context, there is a tendency to see gender analysis as a “woman’s issue” which, not only marginalizes the role of gender considerations in policy, but stifles discussions and policy provisions that take into account the unique roles and vulnerabilities that men face. Additionally, gender considerations are often deferred to the NGO sector, leading the authors of the report to call for better institutional coordination on gender equitable outcomes.
Despite the work that is still needed, the Tanzanian policy landscape is ripe with prospects for a more complete coordination and incorporation of gender concerns into policy. Three national policies, which are currently under review, are a key opportunity to integrate gender equality issues. Another hopeful sign in the Tanzanian policy landscape is the call for use of evidence-based sex-disaggregated data to develop newer policies. The collection of this data is a powerful tool to help decision makers better understand the implications of policy decisions. The development and use of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) also provides an ideal avenue to integrate gender across institutions and at various implementation levels.
Finally, women must take an active role in developing climate change policies as their knowledge and expertise can be used to build on current mitigation, adaptation, and disaster reduction plans. The challenges that women face in managing their resources give them a unique vantage point through which they can make substantial contributions to livelihood strategies that are resilient to the impacts of climate change.
The global community will continue to fight against the increasingly dire impacts of climate change. Removing policy gender gaps is one such method of bolstering sustainable adaptation and mitigation efforts that work for both women and men.