Close the gender gap in climate change policy

Academics from the University of Auckland are sharing their climate-related opinions on Newsroom this week in the build-up to Climathon Auckland. Here Dory Reeves explores why climate change policy needs to consider gender equality. 

This year, Auckland joins Climathon, becoming one of 233 cities around the world to simultaneously embark on making their urban spaces better places to live, today and in the future. My challenge to all those participating in Climathon Auckland is to ensure that their ideas address climate change and gender equality.

Gender issues are too often ignored in relation to climate change. Cities need to link their policies and, in this case, their commitment to climate policy and gender equity. This means a commitment to a low-carbon, resilient, inclusive and gender-just city.

Transport is a key area of carbon emissions where we as a community can manageably effect change and make a difference. The projected annual growth of CO2 emissions from transport is 2.5 percent globally. It is valuable to note the gendered difference in how transport is approached.

On average, men travel 30km per day by car, compared to only 12km for women.

Gotelind Alber, an independent researcher who specialises in this area, provided key food for thought in 2011 and 2015 reports for UN-Habitat. Gotelind found that more women than men have no other transport options than walking, and more women than men depend on public transport. In contrast, more men than women have access to motorised means of transport, and more men than women use bicycles. In the Austrian city of Vienna, for 72 percent of their trips, women use low-carbon modes of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport, while men use these modes for only 59 percent of their trips. On average, men travel 30km per day by car, compared to only 12km for women.

Here in Auckland, research from Auckland Transport shows that gender balance is more even in terms of who is walking. However, there is room to improve. I look forward to hearing how Auckland Climathoners propose to close that gap. We need data on useage and needs separated into gender, and a gender lens put on all projects and budgets to ensure that the needs of women as well as men, boys, girls and gender diverse people, are all met.

I encourage Climathon Auckland participants to take on board the research of Gotelind Alber who stresses the need to:

* Demonstrate an awareness of the gendered impact of climate change;

* Address those key areas which have a strong gender dimension;

* Embed: gender impact assessment; criteria such as recognition of care and informal economy;  benefits for women and men; gender composition and gender balance; androcentrism and symbolic order; and threats, constraints and sanctions affecting women;

* Both for planning and evaluation of policies and measures, participatory gender budgeting should be applied;

* Ensure equal participation among women, men, and gender diverse people.

For the first time, Auckland will join a network across the world to take part in Climathon, a 24-hour global ‘ideas hack’ which encourages communities to come together to tackle climate-related issues in their own cities.

Climathons in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will run simultaneously along with 230 other cities across 70 countries, from Friday night October 27 to Saturday night October 28.

The Auckland Climathon is being hosted by the University of Auckland’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in partnership with Vector, at Unleash Space on the city campus. It is free and open to open to everyone, aged 18 plus, who has an interest in creating a new energy future for the city.

The question at hand will be: how can we power Auckland’s dynamic growth in a low carbon way that is affordable and accessible for every Aucklander?

Climathon was created to bring together people with the skills and passion to create innovative solutions to climate challenges. So whether you’re a student or a scientist, an artist or an academic, a techie or a tradie, Climathon is your chance to turn ideas into action.

Climathon will take place at Unleash Space on the University of Auckland city campus.

Help us create a sustainable future for independent local journalism

As New Zealand moves from crisis to recovery mode the need to support local industry has been brought into sharp relief.

As our journalists work to ask the hard questions about our recovery, we also look to you, our readers for support. Reader donations are critical to what we do. If you can help us, please click the button to ensure we can continue to provide quality independent journalism you can trust.

With thanks to our partners