The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released the first Environment and Gender Index at the recent COP 19 conference in Warsaw, which monitors gender equality and women’s empowerment in the environmental arena.
The Index ranks 72 countries on how they are translating gender and environment mandates into national policy and planning. The strongest performers are Iceland, Netherlands and Norway. The lowest rankings went to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Mauritania.
Major findings of the Index include:
• Information about women’s roles and access in environment-related sectors is not widely collected and reported. Sex-disaggregated data with broad country coverage in sectors such as forestry, agriculture, water, energy, marine, disasters, infrastructure, etc. does not exist. The discovery of this lack of information is significant because it shows we do not know the full story behind human dependence on the natural world, and women are virtually invisible.
• Implementation of global international agreements on gender and environment is lacking in most countries.
• The global average for women’s participation in inter-governmental negotiations on climate change, biodiversity, and desertification has peaked at 36 percent.
“Mozambique was the first country in the world to establish a national climate change and gender action plan,” said Ana Chichava, Deputy Minister of the Environment, Mozambique. “We are eager for the results of the EGI and expect that the information about Mozambique’s performance will help guide our efforts toward gender equality and environmental protection.”
Examples of individual countries that scored well are:
• Iceland is the top performer in most categories, but scored lower in performance on women in COP delegations, female managers, senior officials, and legislators; and country-reporting on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
• Poland ranks highest worldwide in ecosystem category, and lowest in livelihood category for OECD countries.
• Costa Rica ranked highest for governance in Latin America and Caribbean region, lowest on women in COP delegations, and lowest for country-reported activities.
• Mongolia was a top performer in Asia region, but low on women in policy-making and protection of property rights.
• Liberia scored in the top tier of access to credit, land, and property (equivalent to same legal rights as men.)
• The USA had the highest performance on percentage of women without anemia, and lower performance – equal to Greece and Bangladesh – on women in policy-making positions.
• Lebanon had the highest percentage of women in COP delegations, and low performance for women as legislators, managers, and senior officials.
• Benin ranks highest in the ecosystem category in Africa, and lowest in gender-based education and assets category worldwide.
• Mozambique was the highest performer globally on women delegates to the CBD COP11 in 2012.
“Our aim is to promote a culture of greater transparency and accountability, and to contribute to the full, effective and sustained implementation of international agreements on gender equality and women’s rights,” explained Lorena Aguilar, Global Senior Gender Advisor for IUCN. “As an independent tool outside the UN system to measure government performance, the EGI can help policymakers and civil society evaluate and set new benchmarks for government progress. The ability to compare countries and regions establishes a basis for tracking changes in performance over time, and complements existing monitoring and evaluation tools and assessments.”
The EGI is a project of IUCN, a leader on gender issues in the environmental arena, providing institutional guidance, capacity-building, and knowledge development to governments and major institutions.