New research: Gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate change are linked – Women Deliver

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New research: Gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate change are linked

Women Deliver and the International Institute for Sustainable Development launch new evidence highlighting integral connection between climate change, gender equality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights

New York, NY, 18 February 2021 —Today, Women Deliver, a global advocate for gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women, launches two new reports that explore the inextricable linkages between climate change, gender equality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and propose recommendations for decision-makers. The second report, developed in partnership with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, an award-winning independent think tank and secretariat to the NAP Global Network, provides an overview of how SRHR can be integrated into national plans to adapt to climate change.

Women Deliver designed the first report, The Link Between Climate Change and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: An Evidence Review, to be used by decision-makers and climate change, humanitarian, and gender equality advocates to better understand the linkages between sectors and align efforts to generate effective policies and programs. The report finds that there is emerging evidence of the benefits of realizing SRHR as a basis for climate action. The study also finds that:

  • The impacts of climate change have a detrimental effect on individuals' SRHR.
  • Climate action efforts may indirectly and directly impact SRHR, but more evidence is needed.
  • Building a sustainable future for all requires the full potential — and participation — of girls and women in environmental and climate action, and the realization of that potential depends on their health and rights.
  • The impact on girls and women, people of underrepresented sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), and those who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and oppression must be particularly prioritized.

Until now, the linkages between climate change and SRHR have received little attention. However, recognizing these links is key to sustainably adapting to climate change while also improving gender equality and access to SRHR services.

This new evidence comes right before the 65th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), which will highlight "women's empowerment and the link to sustainable development," the kick-off of the Generation Equality Forum, a civil society–centered, global gathering for gender equality, in which climate justice and SRHR are key initiatives, and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), taking place later this year.

"To realize the vision of a gender-equal world, we need to identify and address how interconnected climate change issues and the health and rights of girls and women are. While growing evidence shows that climate change issues are not gender-neutral, there remain considerable gaps in related gender-disaggregated data and gender analyses in this space. There is an urgency for action as communities around the world grapple with unprecedented climate change-related challenges," said Divya Mathew, Senior Manager, Policy and Advocacy at Women Deliver.

In a second report, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Processes, IISD and Women Deliver explore the extent to which SRHR considerations have been incorporated into NAP processes, which are a fundamental driver of the global climate action agenda. These planning processes set priorities for action, improve coordination, mobilize resources, and allow countries to track progress toward the achievement of their adaptation goals. They also present an opportunity to address the impacts of climate change on SRHR. The analysis finds that:

  • Though SRHR issues have not received significant attention in NAP processes to date, they represent an important consideration in building resilience to climate change, particularly to ensure equitable benefits for girls, women, and people of diverse genders and sexual orientations.
  • Efforts to integrate gender considerations in NAP processes provide an important entry point for incorporating SRHR issues.
  • If a gender-responsive approach is adopted, NAP processes can support investments that strengthen health systems toward the mutually supportive outcomes of increased climate resilience and realization of SRHR.

"NAP processes present an opportunity to bring together key actors working on climate change, gender, and health – including governments, civil society groups, donors, researchers, and advocates – to coordinate approaches that enable climate resilience, gender equality, and realization of rights, including those related to sexual and reproductive health," said Angie Dazé, Lead on Gender Equality, Resilience Program, IISD.

Together, the two reports highlight 11 findings and make 14 recommendations to decision-makers and advocates to generate effective, rights-based policies and programs across sectors, including:

  • Enhance collaboration between the climate change, health, and women's rights advocacy and humanitarian communities.
  • Promote gender-transformative climate action by addressing the linkages between climate change and SRHR across climate action processes.
  • Invest in research to address the evidence gaps and integrate analysis of SRHR and climate data.
  • Support health systems to address the underlying causes of vulnerability to climate change.
  • Understand how compounding crises and intersecting identities shape vulnerability and resilience to climate change and SRHR to make sure climate actions do not exacerbate inequalities.

To help visualize the findings and recommendations of both reports, Women Deliver, IISD, and NAP Global Network launched an interactive digital platform for advocates and decision-makers.

Recognizing the links between gender and climate change is key to creating an effective response to climate change while also improving gender equality and access to SRH services. These new reports and their recommendations could lead the international community towards more integrated, systemic approaches to achieving inter-related objectives that improve gender equality and health while helping climate change, such as reaching the Sustainable Development Goals and the goals of the Paris Agreement.