Gender Impact Assessment – an instrument to create gender-just chemicals and waste policy

#Expert – Blog series: How to create a gender-just healthy planet

by Dr. Jutta Emig 

For our work on international chemicals and waste management, it is essential that we pay attention to women and gender issues. The gender actions developed by the BRS Conventions secretariat are an important step towards developing comprehensive gender strategies and taking effective institutional measures. This and other policy actions and instruments could serve as suggestions to create a gender-just framework for a sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020. One important instrument are Gender Impacts Assessments, and I would like to share the experience with the Gender Impact Assessment (GIA) developed in the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and share some aspects of ongoing work on gender and environment issues.

BMU developed its GIA model in 2004, in collaboration with the Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE). GIA is a key instrument of the political strategy of gender mainstreaming, originally developed in the Netherlands in the early Nineties (Verloo/Roggeband 1996). It is an ex ante evaluation or analysis of a law, policy or programme that makes it possible to determine, in a preventative manner, if its future implementation “is causing negative consequences for the state of equality between women and men” (EIGE 2018). The basic understanding of GIA is “that the gender neutrality of political measures often has unintentional but highly consequential and often negative impacts on gender relations in a society and on men and women themselves” (ISOE 2002). Thus, the central question of GIA is: “Does a policy measure reduce, maintain or increase the gender inequalities between women and men?” (EIGE 2018).

GIA Stage Model

The environmental Gender Impact Assessment developed by BMU and ISOE is the specific review of an environmental policy measure by using a GIA stage model. Its three stages are:

  1. Relevance (Pre Test): In the first step it is checked whetherthe implementation of a GIA is relevant to the examined policy measure or not. Are persons directly or indirectly affected by the measure or parts of it and to what extend? At the end of this step, the decision is made if a GIA should be implemented or not. At the end of this step, the decision is made if a GIA should be implemented or not.
  2. Gender Impact Analysis (Main Test): In the second step, the gender
    impacts are analyzed. Which factors of the policy measure are influencing women and men, as well as gender relations? The aim of this working step is to provide a detailed description of relevant gender aspects of the examined policy measure that will lay the foundations for the subsequent rating.
  3. Rating and Voting: In the third step, the analyzed gender impacts are evaluated and improvements are developed. At the end these are again tested: Are gender aspects sufficiently taken into account within the new recommendations? Is gender equality better addressed by the measure than before the measure?

Last but not least, the GIA stage model has to be anchored in the regular work. In Germany, a Gender Focal Point at the Federal Environment Agency is managing the work on gender and environment issues and within the research project “The contribution of gender justice to successful climate politics”, the Federal Environmental Agency is currently further developing the GIA instrument and adapting it to issues related to climate change.

Gender Analysis – Photo: IDRC

In this context, the dimensions of gender analysis are being further developed, including with a view to the transformative potential of gender mainstreaming in all sustainable development policies. In a current research project on gender and climate change (Röhr, Alber & Göldner 2017) existing gender dimensions of such an analysis were harmonized and further developed. Seven provisional gender dimensions were identified (ibid.):

  • Care economy / care work (sex specific responsibilities for work and decisions inside the house and household; cost-benefit-analysis of care; logic and criteria of the care economy)
  • Income economy / paid work (sex-specific division of labour of paid and unpaid work; gender pay gap; poverty and poverty risks; distribution of wealth)
  • Public resources: provision, design, access, usability of public services and infrastructures (distribution of public space, public finance, quantity and quality of services & infrastructures, access to resources)
  • Structural aspects: symbolic order (dominant societal constructions of gender and gender identities, including perceptions, attitudes, risk assessments, and problem identification)
  • Structural aspects: institutionalized andro-centrism (institutional rationalities that determine the understanding of tasks, processes, organization and outcome; models of masculinity as the norm, conceptualization, methods, production of knowledge)
  • Power of definition and decision-making of actors (processes, decisions, power relations and governance structures, participation, empowerment, choice of instruments)
  • Body, health, intimacy (physical differences between the sexes and age groups, sexual harassment, reproductive health, sex-specific responsibilities for health, sex-specific perception of physical risks)

These seven dimensions allow identifying differences between genders in terms of roles, identities and behavior that lead to differences in exposure and impact and to address root causes of inequities, injustice and unsustainable development.

Transformative potential of GIA

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda clearly states that we need fundamental change: transformation of economies and societies towards justice, environmental protection, and resource-efficiency. Gender Equality is an essential cross-cutting task for advancing transformation towards sustainable development, justice and peace. GIA has enormous potential in this regard: beyond avoiding negative effects it can also be used in a transformative way as a tool for defining gender equality objectives and formulating policies that proactively promote gender equality.

Sex differences, and gender differences in terms of roles and identities are important to understand so that we can improve chemicals and waste management. But we can go a step further: We also need to understand structural causes of gender inequalities, environmental degradation and pollution. Gender injustices and gender inequalities are symptoms of androcentric structures in societies. Using GIA helps to see these connections and to find better solutions. A future framework for the sound management of chemicals and waste should use this potential and integrate GIA as a tool when developing chemicals and waste management policies.

References:

European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) (2018): Homepage: http://eige.europa.eu/gender-mainstreaming/methods-tools/gender-impact.

Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE) (2002): Gender Impact Assessment in the Field of Radiation Protection and the Environment. Concluding Report.

Verloo, Mieke/Roggeband, Connie (1996): Gender Impact Assessment: The Development of a New Instrument in the Netherlands. In: Impact Assessment 14/996, 3-20.

Röhr, Ulrike/Alber, Gotelind/Göldner, Lisa (2017): The contribution of gender justice to successful climate politics: impact assessment, interdependencies with other social categories, methodological issues and options for shaping climate policy. Summary of the 1. Interim report (work package 1). 

Author

Photo: IISD Reporting Service

Dr. Jutta Emig is Head of the Unit International Chemical Safety, Sustainable Chemistry at the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and headed the ministerial project team for the development of GIA.

 

What is Gender Mainstreaming?

#Explanation – Blog series: How to create a gender-just healthy planet

A strategy to achieve gender equality

Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” Kofi Annan (1998)

UN SDG 5 – Gender Equality

There are global patterns of inequalities between women and men: Women tend to experience domestic violence more often than men; women’s political participation and leadership positions are limited; women and men have different access to resources; women are still more likely than men to live in poverty; and women and girls are often disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental disasters (UN 2002, UN Women 2018). And it is not only women who are negatively affected – gender inequalities impact whole societies: for example, not investing in female education lowers the gross national product; gender discrimination in the labour market decreases national income; and gender inequality reduces the productivity of the next generation because it has negative effects on household investments in nutrition, health and education of children (UN 2002). “Achieving greater gender equality will require changes at all levels, including changes in attitudes and relationships, changes in institutions and legal frameworks, changes in economic institutions, and changes in political decision-making structures” (UN 2002).

Definition of Gender Mainstreaming

The strategy for promoting gender equality is Gender Mainstreaming. Since 1990, there was a growing debate about gender mainstreaming strategies in the UN as well as the EU. Gender Mainstreaming was then endorsed in the Beijing Platform for Action, agreed at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. It was finally defined in the ECOSOC agreed conclusions 1997/2 as: “the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality” (ECOSOC 1997). This official UN definition is strong with regard to including all different spheres and levels and all the phases of the policy cycle but also has some weaknesses from a feminist perspective: the actors in charge of implementation are not mentioned; it remains a top-down approach; the definition reduces the term ‘gender’ to ‘women and men’ and is not used as an agenda-setting approach. When developing a particular Gender Mainstreaming Strategy, it is therefore useful to also take note of other definitions, for example: Gender Mainstreaming is “the (re)organization, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy-making” (Council of Europe, 1998).

How to mainstream gender

The primary objective of gender mainstreaming is to design and implement development projects, programs and policies that:

  • Do not reinforce existing gender inequalities (Gender Neutral),
  • attempt to redress existing gender inequalities (Gender Sensitive/Gender Responsive),
  • or attempt to re-define women and men’s gender roles and relations at the structural level (Gender Positive / Transformative).

Institutional gender mainstreaming strategies ideally combine several components (EIGE 2016):

  • A goal definition for mainstreaming gender with targeted actions for gender equality
  • A gender analysis of the initial position
  • A gender impact assessment of planned measurements, programs and projects
  • Gender budgeting
  • A combined approach to responsibilities (where all staff share responsibility, but are supported by gender experts or a gender focal point)
  • Gender trainings and gender awareness raising
  • Monitoring and evaluation

Opportunities, obstacles and processes in the context of gender mainstreaming are often very different for each area of work. Thus, “there is no set formula or blueprint that can be applied in every context. However, what is common to mainstreaming in all sectors or development issues is that a concern for gender equality is brought into the ‘mainstream’ of activities rather than dealt with as an ‘add-on’” (UN 2002) – “it requires change in all mainstream policies, programmes and resource allocations” (UN 2007).

Gender mainstreaming is not a new strategy. It builds on years of experience of trying to bring gender perspectives to the center of attention in policies and programs and is used nowadays by numerous institutions at all political levels, inside and outside government.

Many lessons have been learned and we can build on this knowledge and experience when mainstreaming gender in the sound management of chemicals and waste management in the SAICM Beyond 2020 framework. Our policy suggestions for SAICM Beyond 2020 are based on UN agreements since 1995 and lessons learned about effective gender mainstreaming, e.g. the actions on mainstreaming gender done by the BRS Conventions secretariat.

First steps for a Gender Mainstreaming Strategy in SAICM

Resources:  

Council of Europe (1998): Gender Mainstreaming: Conceptual Framework, Methodology and Presentation of Good Practice. Final Report of Activities of the Group of Specialists on Mainstreaming.

ECOSOC (1997): Mainstreaming the gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/pdf/ECOSOCAC1997.2.PDF

EIGE (2016): What is Gender Mainstreaming?

UN (2002): Gender Mainstreaming. An Overview. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/pdf/e65237.pdf

UN (2007): Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system. Report of the Secretary-General, 2007/64.

UN Women (2018): Turning Promises into Action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Further information on Gender Mainstreaming with links, resources and tools:

Gender Mainstreaming in general:

UN Women: Gender Mainstreaming. http://www.unwomen.org/en/how-we-work/un-system-coordination/gender-mainstreaming

European Institute for Gender Equality: What is gender mainstreaming.

http://eige.europa.eu/gender-mainstreaming/what-is-gender-mainstreaming

Gender Mainstreaming and chemicals:

UNDP (2007): Chemicals Management: The why and how of mainstreaming gender.

http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/environment-energy/chemicals_management/chemicals-management-the-why-and-how-of-mainstreaming-gender.html

BRS Conventions: Gender. Overview. http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=3651

MSP Institute (2018): Policy Suggestions. How to integrate gender in SAICM Beyond 2020. http://gender-chemicals.org/policy-suggestions-for-integrating-gender-in-saicm-beyond-2020

 

 

Women and Chemical Safety in Africa: the Case of the Flower Sector

#Expert – Blog Series: How to create a gender-just healthy planet

by Dr. Yahya Msangi

Introduction

The fight for chemical safety in Africa is complicated by many factors. First is the fact that many chemicals do not cause instant visible harm, damage or death. Chemicals are silent operators. In a continent where there are a number of other causes of instant harm, damage and death such as mosquitoes, wild animals and pathogens effects of chemicals are not prioritized. Other factors that complicate the fight for chemical safety are culture, poverty, high rates of illiteracy, aggressive marketing by the industry, lack of expertise, poor policies and enforcement of legislations.

There is no group that is more affected than women and children, in particular working women, and the flower sector shows the typical problems.

Flower farm worker, Tanzania – Photo by Sam Fox/Equal Times

The Flower Sector, Women and Chemicals in Africa

Kenya was the first country in Africa to develop the flower sector and it was followed by Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Ethiopia. Flower production shifted from Northern developed countries to Southern developing countries due to lower health and environmental standards in the South, availability of sunshine, free land and water. Labor costs are also much lower. But production of flowers requires intensive use of chemicals and plastic sheets. This increases the risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals to women. Why women? Because the flower industry is feminine! In general, flower production employs 80 % women, particularly girls of ages between 16-28 years. Why? There is a silent belief that flowers require tenderness in their production, and women are linked to tenderness. However, behind this there are hidden reasons!

In Africa, women are less educated and are therefore paid less than their male counterparts. In Africa, women are brought up to become obedient and less argumentative especially in front of men (though the workforce is feminine almost 90% of supervisors in flower farms are men!). When you are paid less and expected not to speak out the possibility of exposure to chemicals increases. For example, low salaries force women in the flower sector to work longer hours in order to earn overtime pay. Women also don’t ask for personal protective clothing (PPE) as doing so will be regarded as being argumentative, which is against culture and tradition.

©miratrick

Women in the flower sector are more exposed during high demand seasons in the developed countries i.e. during Valentine, Mother’s Day, Christmas and Easter. Ironically it is fellow women in developed countries who are the main consumers of flowers during these periods! The more the demand in the North, the higher the rate of exposure in the South. Cases of instantaneous abortions, nausea, loss of consciousness, etc. are not very uncommon during these periods, particularly in the green houses and grading rooms.

In order to address the situation a group of NGOs and Trade Unions established the International Cut Flower Code of Conduct (ICC). This code mainstreamed gender and chemical safety issues and was used by many   programs including the Fair Flowers Fair Plants Program (FFP – Netherlands, see also their benchmark document for label certification), the Flower Labelling Program (FLP – Germany; not active at the moment), Max Havelaar – Switzerland), The Kenya Flower Council and the Ethiopian Code for the cut flower industry.

Mainstreaming gender and chemical safety in codes of practice for each industry or occupation is the best way of protecting women, girls and children. In my view, all international programs including SAICM, Paris Climate Agreement, Agenda 2030 and others should design appropriate codes of practice or provide guidance to stakeholders rather than just mentioning gender issues in their texts. To me, just mentioning or acknowledging the gender dimension is not enough; it is artificial mainstreaming. Real mainstreaming requires more than text!

——-

Dr. Yahya Msangi

Dr. Yahya Msangi is the International Tech Adviser for Sustdev, Climate Change and Chemical Safety at the Youth NGO “Welfare Togo”. His profession is Environmental Resource Management and Occupational Safety and Health with work experiences in Agriculture Land use Planning, Farm Management, Workers Unions and the Global Pesticides Project.

More information about Welfare Togo and their work you can find on their website: https://twelfare.wordpress.com/, or you can contact them via E-mail: togowelfare(at)gmail.com

 

 

Introducing our new blog series “How to create a gender-just healthy planet” – with experts and explanations every two weeks

“Healthy [environment] [planet], healthy people!” – This is the vision with the most support for a new international framework on chemicals and waste management beyond 2020.

And we agree: this vision can be a strong statement for the future.

Health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO 2006). We all know that this is not the case for everyone around the world, nor for our planet. One reason are massive gender inequalities, manifest in every dimension of sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that gender equality is central to this transformative vision as an important goal in itself and as a catalyst for progress across the entire Agenda (UN 2015). Therefore, it is crucial to integrate a gender perspective into the implementation and monitoring of all the Sustainable Development Goals and UN Institutions working on them (UN Women 2018) – including in chemicals policies.

In short, there are three main reasons why gender is an issue for chemicals policy:

  1. Gender, as a social category, is linked to gender-specific norms of behaviour, roles in society as well as the development of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ identities, which in turn influence people’s behaviour, including their impact on the environment, their affectedness by environmental degradation, and their access to and power over resources.
  2. Gender, as a biological category, shows that women’s and men’s bodies are affected differently by certain chemicals – exposure, risk, and impacts can be different between the sexes.
  3. Gender analysis allows to ask questions that help us understand and unpack root causes of unsustainable behaviour and societies, and hence have a transformational potential. We need to tap into this potential in order to bring about sustainable development, justice and peace.

SAICM has an agreed Overarching Policy Strategy (OPS) that sets out the scope, needs, objectives, financial considerations underlying principles and approaches, and implementation and review arrangements of SAICM as a platform and process. The OPS underlines the specific importance of women as stakeholders and their still evident lack of representation in the implementation and decision-making processes for the sound management of chemicals and chemical safety (SAICM 2012).

Yet, specific knowledge on differentiated and long-term effects of chemicals on women and men is still lacking. Most delegations and stakeholders are not aware of the knowledge we do have. Comprehensive gender analysis of chemicals and waste management is lacking even more. Like in many other areas, we need to increase research to obtain sex-disaggregated data, analyze gender roles and identities and how they impact our interactions with chemicals and waste along the whole life cycle. But how to go about that?

Blogs with experts and explanations

With our new blog article series, we want discuss how we can create a gender-just healthy planet and demonstrate the potential of gender mainstreaming into chemicals policies. There will be a brief article every two weeks.

  • Blog articles by experts from organisations and stakeholders – e.g. relevant UN bodies, governments, gender experts, and colleagues working on implementation projects dealing with gender and chemicals and waste – will share their expertise and experiences
  • Blogs offering explanations and background about concepts, tools and strategies to mainstream gender into chemicals and waste management.

Enjoy reading!

Anna and Minu from the MSP Institute – Project “Gender and Chemicals Beyond 2020”

P.S.: If you would like to join the group of blog authors, let us know! We’re happy to include your article in the series. Pls email anna.holthaus(at)msp-institute.org

References:

SAICM (2012): SAICM Texts and Resolutions of the International Conference on Chemicals Management. http://www.saicm.org/Portals/12/Documents/saicmtexts/New%20SAICM%20Text%20with%20ICCM%20resolutions_E.pdf

UN (2015): Transforming our world. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/21252030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development%20web.pdf

UN Women (2018): Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2018/2/gender-equality-in-the-2030-agenda-for-sustainable-development-2018#view

WHO (2006): Constitution of the World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/governance/eb/who_constitution_en.pdf