Gender Matters With IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is dedicated to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, both in our workplace and through our work.

Within our workplace, we aim to attract highly qualified professionals by implementing internal policies and practices that contribute to gender equality.

In addition, IISD works on a number of initiatives to ensure that sustainable development policies and legislation support gender equality and women’s empowerment.

We focus on:
• Gender differences in development needs, opportunities and capacities
• Women’s access to, and control over, resources
• Gender impacts of sustainable development policies
• Women’s participation and influence in sustainable development decision-making processes

Scroll down to read about examples of our work in these four areas.

Exploring Gender Differences in Development Needs and Capacities

Women and men often have different roles and responsibilities within communities, as well as different access to resources. Thus, they tend to be affected to varying degrees by climate risks and also tend to respond differently. Fostering climate adaptation therefore requires understanding and accounting for these variances in needs, capacities and priorities.

Since 2007, IISD’s Resilience Program has worked with partners to help project planners and managers design activities that support climate adaptation at the community level.

Using the CRiSTAL (Community-based Risk Screening Tool – Adaptation & Livelihoods) tool, users gather and analyze information on local livelihoods and climate. This helps clarify which livelihood resources should be targeted in project activities so that women and men are better able to adapt to climate change. Most information is gathered through stakeholder consultations. The tool itself runs on Microsoft Excel so that users can record and summarize the information gathered through separate focus group discussions with women and men.

More information:
CRiSTAL website

Ensuring Equal Rights and Access to Resources

IISD’s Economic Law and Policy Program is investigating and promoting ways to improve gender equality in domestic and foreign agricultural investments. We are working with governments and parliaments to ensure that national laws and policies related to land, water and agricultural investments support gender equality and women’s empowerment. This includes promoting equal rights among women and men to own, control or access land.

We also provide advice to agricultural investors on how to integrate gender equality in international investment contracts. Central to this work is promoting an environment in which women and men have equal access to the information and resources they need to be successful in agriculture.

More information:
Promoting Gender Equality in Foreign Agricultural Investments: Lessons from voluntary sustainability standards (2017)

Tracking the Effects of Sustainable Development Policies on Women

Governments spend around USD 500 billion every year subsidizing fossil fuels. Many countries are reforming and phasing out such subsidies, but little data exists on how such reforms could affect women and men differently. Governments need to ensure that reform plans and subsidies are targeted at women’s needs and help safeguard vulnerable women’s access to clean household energy sources.

IISD’s Energy Program, through the Global Subsidies Initiative, is generating household survey data on the gender impacts of fossil fuel subsidies in selected countries in Africa and Asia. In Nigeria, for example, we are focusing on how women may be affected by the reform of subsidies to kerosene (which is widely used as a cooking and lighting fuel) to help the government design gender-sensitive reform policies.

More information:
How subsidy reform could benefit women (2016)
Gender and Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform: Current status of research (2016)
Making Subsidy Reform Work for Women in Nigeria (2016)

Promoting Equal Participation and Influence in Decision-Making Processes

Example #1: National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Processes

Ensuring that women have an active role in decision making on climate change adaptation is critical for reducing vulnerabilities. IISD’s Resilience Program is exploring the integration of gender considerations in NAP processes in developing countries.

Through the NAP Global Network, hosted by IISD, we have developed a working framework for gender-responsive NAP processes. We will use this framework to support country efforts on integrating gender, to assess progress and to compile learning.

Our analysis has found that, while many countries are already making some efforts to integrate gender into their NAP documents, more effort is needed to ensure that these processes are inclusive, that women’s participation in adaptation planning is effective and that adaptation actions address the particular challenges faced by women and girls.

More information:
Gender in National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Processes: A pilot review of climate change adaptation planning documents from 15 countries (2017)
A Framework for Gender-Responsive National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Processes (2017)

Example #2: Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators

Our Economic Law and Policy Program also supports women’s participation in the Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators, a discussion platform convened by IISD since 2007 for developing countries to freely consider and develop their own negotiating priorities and goals in relation to international investment treaties.

IISD offers training courses to women participants to encourage their attendance and works directly with women negotiators to strengthen their negotiating capacities.

For more information on implementing SDG 5 and gender across all SDGs, visit our online resource center, the SDG Knowledge Hub.

Photo: © IFPRI/Milo Mitchell via Creative Commons