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13 July 2012 / jenbusse

Gender-Responsive Climate Change Adaptation and Egypt

Neither the impacts of climate change on people, nor the ways in which people respond to climate change are gender-neutral. Women usually bear the burden of climate changes because they are the bulk of the Egypt’s poor and have fewer resources for coping with global warming and the ensuing related disasters already occurring with more frequency and intensity. The mortality rates for women in Egypt continue to be higher than men, and climate change will worsen mortality expectancies for women, who are more likely to die in natural disasters and, indirectly because it is women and girls who sacrifice food to eat when it is scarce. Gender inequalities and different gender roles, needs and preferences that vary over space and over time, influence the different ways in which young, adult, and elderly males and females experience the impacts of climate change and develop strategies to adapt to or mitigate them.

Gender equality is both a development goal in itself – reflected, for example, in the third Millennium Development Goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) — and a condition for the achievement of sustainable development. As such, gender equality is also a condition for successful adaptation to climate change, and the successful transition to low-carbon pathways in Egypt, because the women livelihoods are more directly threatened, as they make up the majority of the small farmers. Their ability to migrate in search of economic opportunities makes it easier for men to deal with crisis, and may result in benefits for the family as a whole. However, male migration to Cairo the city capital of Egypt often increases women’s workload, as they are left behind to manage the household in addition to usual tasks.

Climate change can also increase women’s exposure to other risks, such as gender-based violence and HIV infection. In addition to the challenges described above, climate change has implications for food preparation and storage (in terms of water for food preparation and the vulnerability of food stores to extreme events, such as cyclones and floods). Harvests may be reduced or even wiped out by floods or droughts. This affects market prices and the availability of surplus to sell, placing pressure on both men and women to identify other sources of income and reduce major expenditures (e.g. school fees). In times of food shortage, women are often expected to feed other members of the family before attending to their own needs.

The implementation of several elements of any environmental plan will strongly depend on the input of women. This will, in particular, be the case for a successful implementation of measures in the National Water Resources Plan of Egypt category of ‘Protecting health and environment’ but also for some measures in the other categories in the same plan. The governments of Arab Spring countries should adopt the following policy principles with respect to gender issues in water management:

• Equal opportunities for men and women with regard to:

− involvement in discussion and decision making on water use and resources issues;

− dissemination of information and communication about water resources and water use issues and financial consequences provided by institutions concerned;

− Active participation in decision-making bodies dealing with water resources and irrigation management

• Equal benefits for men and women deriving from effective and efficient water resources management., which means promoting the involvement of women as well as men in consultation and decision-making from the community level to the highest level of organizational management. This will require further efforts to be made in creating space for women in planning and implementation processes, as well as to facilitate their participation through capacity building.

Gendered water resources management will lead to greater:

• Effectiveness: the infrastructure, as well as valuable water resources, will be more widely and optimally used and sustained by all user groups;

• Efficiency: the presence of limited water resources the sector agency can reach more individuals;

•Development: the service and its social process will not only bring water, it will increase consumption, production, income environmental security, health and overall family welfare;

• Sustainable use in freshwater ecosystem: women’s and men’s direct and fair participation in research and project implementation can increase the potential flexibility and creativity in responding to environmental insecurity and changes in resource system;

• Equity: burdens and benefits will be shared more equitably between women and men in the community at large, as well as in the household.

The importance of involving women as well as men in water resources management is not only to improve women’s situation, but also essential element for effective development, is the utilization and management of water resources. There is an increasing urgency in the need to mainstream a gender perspective at the overall water resources level because of the new emerging international perspectives on water resources.

The ugly truth we face is that most gender issues being tackled are merely used as “page filling” in a report without real application in real life.  This is likely due to the personal note that such strategies for gender equality related to climate change reports in Egypt that lack effective strategies for systematic integration of gender in their adaptation and mitigation work. Especially with regard to projects funded by donors agencies outside the MENA region, experiences of integrating gender in their work on climate change, some level of awareness, policy commitments and efforts or plans to scale up successful pilot projects exist.  Much work remains for gender to become truly and systematically incorporated into their climate change policies and programs.

Donors’ agencies, such as USAID, do not generally lack gender or climate change capacities, but may lack the capacity, resources and clear mandates to connect them. Both climate change and gender capacities usually exist within each donor organization, backed in some cases by strong gender policies, but gender integration, particularly in climate change portfolios, is often weak. This is in part due to technical barriers and poor communication between climate change and gender experts.  A lack of clear mandates and concepts in mainstreaming processes leads to ‘mainstreaming fatigue’, a lack of adequate human and financial resource allocation for gender mainstreaming, and a lack of strategies to identify gender entry points across climate change policy work and program cycles.

Ayman Ramadan Mohamed Ayad is an engineer and Water Resources Advisor at National Water Resources Plan (NWRP-CP), and has been involved in the future vision for Alexandria integrated water urban development.  He also teaches  applied hydraulic at Alexandria Universities, and serves as the Egyptian Coordinator for NAYD (Network of African Youth for Development).

5 Comments

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  1. does a cpap really help

  2. ayman Ramadan / Aug 6 2012 12:28 am

    so my late replies as i was in a fellowship in US
    1- thats is not an official stated phrase mentioned in a governmental report rather than a combination between a statment mentioned in general by UN about donor agencies in ME and arab countries and by personal experience with working NGOs memebers in that field specially relating gender with climate change or environment..
    2- u can find these info about women in many UN articles and reports related to MDG and situation in egypt and MENA region, and i can add thet reports by national council for women and CAPMAS issued several reports about poor indicators and egyptian families and indicated that the women are the bulk of egyptian poor and the most suffering for lack of education
    http://ww.moheet.com/show_files.aspx?fid=498487
    http://www.almostshar.com/web/Subject_Desc.php?Subject_Id=1726&Cat_Subject_Id=97&Cat_Id=1
    http://www.arab-hdr.org/publications/other/undp/mdgr/egypt-nmdgr-04a.pdf
    3- those are مرصد الموازنة العامة و حقوق الإنسان تقريره الجديد تحت عنوان
    ” موازنة النوع الاجتماعي في مصر 2002 – 2007
    and CAPMAS site and comapring egyptian child mortality rates for both with popluation increase and comparing various repoorts such as
    http://www.arab-hdr.org/publications/other/undp/mdgr/egypt-nmdgr-04a.pdf
    http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Egypt/Egypt_Second_MDG_Country_Report%20Arabic.pdf
    hope thats could give u a good answer 🙂

  3. Ahmed Effat Mokhtar / Jul 13 2012 12:18 pm

    Nice article..if possible,provide reference please on the ur below statements..

    1. “Donors’ agencies, such as USAID, do not generally lack gender or climate change capacities, but may lack the capacity, resources and clear mandates to connect them. ”

    2. ” Women usually bear the burden of climate changes because they are the bulk of the Egypt’s poor and have fewer resources for coping with global warming and the ensuing related disasters already occurring with more frequency and intensity.”

    3. “The mortality rates for women in Egypt continue to be higher than men, and climate change will worsen mortality expectancies for women, who are more likely to die in natural disasters and, indirectly because it is women and girls who sacrifice food to eat when it is scarce.”

    • jenbusse / Jul 13 2012 3:18 pm

      Great comment! I have fowarded this to the author for his review.

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