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Gender mainstreaming in environmental performance reviews

Gender mainstreaming is well developed in the Environmental Performance Review (EPR) Programme, and gender issues are addressed in all country reviews. The EPR Programme contributes to the empowerment of women and gender equality through the representation of women in all aspects of the Programme. This includes the composition of review teams visiting beneficiary countries. 

All the latest EPRs include a subsection on gender in the introductory chapters. Broadly speaking, this subsection includes matters such as the countries’ ratification of CEDAW and its Optional Protocol, national legislation on gender equality, the political representation of women, and the countries’ score on gender equality indexes. Some EPRs include gender disaggregated data on health including data on pregnant women, reproductive health and cancers specific to women.

Specific studies on women and environment are also reflected in reviews. For example, results are included from the Equitable Access Scorecard of the Protocol on Water and Health wherever it has been applied.  

Since 2017, EPRs have integrated the sustainable development goals and this has provided another way in for gender mainstreaming. SDG 4 quality education, SDG 5 gender equality, SDG 6 clean water and sanitation and the corresponding targets 4.a, 5.a and 6.2 feature most prominently in relation to gender, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. 

Gender issues in the reviews

Gender issues are addressed in the reviews where the expert teams considered these aspects important for the countries reviewed. The third EPRs of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are the most comprehensive in terms of gender mainstreaming as they include gender considerations in five substantive chapters and in recommendations.

The gender aspects of water and sanitation are reflected in many EPRs. To give a specific example, Mongolia’s EPR reports a survey of water collection in Ulaanbaatar, which showed the high involvement of men in water collection, which is positive as this is often seen as a shameful activity for men to participate in. The survey also noted that women are most often in charge of deciding when to collect more water for the family, so these together may point to greater gender equality in this sense than in other countries. However, it was further noted that this gender equality does not translate into more opportunities for women to participate in local or regional decision-making on water management. 

EPRs raise awareness of the importance of gender mainstreaming into environmental issues in relation to unequal access opportunities to land resources. In the third EPR of Kazakhstan, access to land and finance is specifically considered, with data provided on the proportion of women leaders in the Kazakh agricultural sector compared to the overall proportion of women among all employees in the agriculture sector. 

Gender responsive environmental risk management features in the third EPR of Tajikistan. Notably, the issues brought up on gender responsive environmental risk management are incorporated in the recommendations. One recommendation is that the Government should build on the work and experience of other countries on risk management by increasing the number of women in search and rescue work.

The third EPR of Uzbekistan notes that, although the country collects a large amount of gender-related data, no data are collected on gender and environment; the review includes recommendations in this respect. It also highlights gender aspects of access to energy, since an unreliable power supply affects women’s efficiency while performing traditional social roles and creates barriers for working women.

Overall, EPRs provide a positive example of gender mainstreaming in environmental policies and strategies. This is especially true in the procedural aspects of how the reviews are carried out and the way in which the EPR programme has a broad representation of women managing and contributing to the process. However, this is also true for the substantive content of the reviews since recent reviews include gender mainstreaming in a more systematic way. The incorporation of gender aspects and the application of gender mainstreaming is positive given that EPRs are not, per se, tools to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.