A report by FIIAPP, ILO and Euroclima asserts that the green transition can reduce the gender gap
The report Green jobs, an opportunity for women in Latin America. Climate Change, Gender and Just Transition, a collaborative research between FIIAPP, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the European Union’s Euroclima programme, explores how climate change mitigation and adaptation policies contribute to gender equality through the creation of green jobs.
Fair transition implies an integrated approach that recognises the interdependence of climate and environmental, economic, social and gender policies, as well as a stronger gender perspective in climate change impact assessments and the design of climate change adaptation and mitigation policies.
The report was presented in a virtual event by Claudia Coenjaerts, ILO Regional Director a.i. for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Inmaculada Zamora, Secretary General of the FIIAPP. The event was also attended by Dali Angel, Coordinator of the Youth and Indigenous Women Programme of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC) and María Elena Valenzuela, author of the report.
The research finds that climate change and extreme weather events have an unequal impact on men and women. Natural disasters increase the workload of women, who bear the burden of care work in families. This is aggravated by the lack of basic services and school closures, which leads many women to withdraw from the labour market, losing their sources of income and their options for personal autonomy.
Public policies to address the gender gap
Incorporating a gender dimension into these policies means addressing the disadvantages – greater digital illiteracy, less access to capital, land, finance and technical assistance – that women face. “Failure to implement appropriate policies risks widening inequality gaps. The transition to a more sustainable economic model will entail the creation of a whole new generation of green jobs,” said Inmaculada Zamora, Secretary General of the FIIAPP.
A previous study by the ILO and the IDB estimated that the transition to a more sustainable economy could lead to the creation of up to 22.5 million new jobs in sectors such as agriculture, forestry, renewable energy, construction and manufacturing. However, most of these jobs would be in highly male-dominated sectors and only 4 million would be filled by women.
The report notes that occupational segregation and images of appropriate careers for men and women persist, despite the increase in women’s educational attainment, which now exceeds that of men. Gender stereotypes discourage women from entering science and technology careers, so that women are under-represented in areas of economic activity related to decarbonisation. For this reason, strategies to combat climate change must empower women – especially indigenous and Afro-descendant women – and increase their participation in discussion, negotiation and decision-making on climate issues.
Faced with this reality, Claudia Coenjaerts states: “If climate policy responses are gender neutral they can have negative effects (…) It is essential to seize the opportunity for climate policies to be part of a transformative agenda that promotes a just transition with more sustainable and less unequal societies”. It refers to a just transition that contributes to the goals of decent work, social inclusion, poverty elimination and gender equality.
To achieve these goals would require, on the one hand, an alliance between the political institutions responsible for environment, labour and education issues and, on the other hand, the incorporation of specific measures in gender equality plans to address the disproportionate impact that climate change has on the lives of Latin American women.