Women and the environment
Study on area K of the Beijing Platform for Action: Women and the Environment in the European Union
Client: European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)
The EU has championed the recognition of gender equality as a fundamental right, and with a growing body of law relating to anti-discrimination and gender equality, it is a driving force in promoting parity in this area.
Despite this, comprehensive gender mainstreaming has been carried out in a piecemeal fashion in various policy areas, and the environmental policy area has received very little gender-focused attention. Studies show that consumption and lifestyle patterns, that impact significantly on the environment, differ between men and women, and that attitudes towards sustainable development also vary according to gender. Yet, women’s involvement in policy-making and decision-making in these fields remains low.
Women are significantly under-represented in the field of climate change, in particular in the traditionally male-dominated transport and energy sectors. This is frequently attributed to the fact that education and careers in the relevant fields of natural sciences, technology and economics are dominated by men. Furthermore, gender aspects of climate change have received limited attention in both the EU and international bodies.
The 1995 international Beijing Platform for Action identified key areas of concern for the advancement of women in the world, which have to be monitored and reported upon by national governments. One of these areas (area K), women and the environment, highlights the importance of data showing women’s participation, concerns and interests in this area, as well as the need for further training and career development.
It noted that women and the environment are one of only three out of 12 priority areas for which there are no developed indicators and one of two areas for which there is a particularly pressing need. The report also noted that statistical data is not always available at the EU level and is often missing at national level. Often a lack of sex-disaggregated data is the main problem.
The study for the European Institute for Gender Equality directly supported the Beijing Platform's call for the definition of indicators for Area K, within the field of climate change. In order to support the definition of indicators, the team carried out an extensive literature review on the issue of gender and climate change, and collected and analysed data on the participation of women in climate change-related decision-making and the segmentation of education by gender in natural sciences and technological fields relevant for climate change.
Finally, a gender analysis of Member States' policy initiatives in the areas of transport and energy was carried out. This analysis aimed to provide a better understanding of how EU Member States’ climate policy initiatives, in particular in the energy and transport areas, address gender issues.