Women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change due to their subordinate position in most societies. In the case of Ghana, we see women facing inequalities when it comes to access to land, technology, financial resources, education and decision-making power, largely due to our cultural norms and regulatory barriers. These cyclical dynamics are manifested in metrics like literacy rates; women’s illiteracy rate is at 30 percent compared to men 17 percent of men.
Women are affected by the division of labour which limits them to mostly unpaid, time consuming and repetitive activities such as collecting firewood, water fetching, and cooking, instead of more market-valued, productive activities. Indeed, Ghanaian women spend over two times as longer on domestic work than men (UNECA 2004). Hence, women in Ghana are more likely to be impoverished than men, less likely to contribute knowledge to policy-making and implementation, and less able to adapt to current and future climate change impacts.
At the same time, women are powerful agents of change and due to their prominent role in climate-vulnerable sectors like agriculture, they have unique knowledge can play a key role in delivering effective and sustainable solutions for climate change adaptation. For example, women produce 70 percent of the nation’s subsistence crops, account for 52 percent of the labour force and contribute to 46 percent of the total GDP (FAO, 2012). Their hands-on experience and technical knowhow needs to leveraged through empowering them with decision-making responsibilities if climate change impacts are to be mitigated effectively.
As well as agriculture, women in Ghana also play key role in the energy sector. These two sectors are outlined as priorities in Ghana’s climate commitment to the Paris Agreement – referred to as its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) - and a gender-sensitive approach is critical for achieving this commitment. This is why Ghana embarked on a gender analysis for the two sectors, assessing the different contributions of women and men to the two sectors, as well as how thye are impacted through sector specific climate policy.
While Ghana’s climate change policies such as the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP), the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, as well as policies in the energy and agriculture sectors, recognised the importance of gender equality in achieving climate goals, the analysis revealed that they integrated gender at various degrees. The analysis found strong variations regarding the gender responsiveness of policies, strategies and plans in the agriculture and energy sectors. Among the two sectors; the agriculture sector policies are more gender responsive compared to the the ones in the energy sector.
The processes involved broad stakeholder consultations with staff from the two-sector ministry and agencies, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (who are coordinating the NDCs), civil society organisations, development partners, the academic and private sector organisations involved in on climate action.
The analysis was relevant in identifying key gaps that need to be addressed for effective mainstreaming, such as: weak coordination on climate change and gender related actions; technical capacity gaps in the public sector to develop and implement gender-sensitive climate action; and inadequate sex disaggregated data for effective planning, monitoring and evaluation.
Securing appointments with the relevant institutions’ representatives as part of the consultations posed a great challenge and significantly delayed the gender analysis process.
Other lessons learnt include: the need for a gender-sensitive analyses of climate change vulnerability and strengths that should consider more complex, horizontal (inter-community) and vertical (national, regional, local) distinctions to address context specific gaps.
In addition, it became clear that just because the gender analysis was conducted, and gender is being mainstreamed into climate change policies, does not necessarily mean that the actions will be implemented. They must be budgeted for, funded, implemented and monitored for the intended impact to be realised.
As part of the way forward, it is recommended that gender equality and women’s empowerment considerations need to be integrated into existing planning and policy instruments, instead of creating parallel processes. This ensures appropriate resources are allocated for implementation of strategies and institutional capacity building. These recommendations are informing Ghana’s NDC implementation plan, to ensure its climate actions are effective as possible, through being gender-responsive.
Dr. Antwi-Boasiako Amoah is the Lead, Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ghana. Ms. Sabia Kpekata is the Climate Change lead officer at the Gender Department of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ghana.
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