Tip Sheet on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA): Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls
Main recommendations extracted from the SEA of the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) for the Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls Action Area
In compliance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, GAC has produced a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of its Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) and its action area policies. The purpose of the SEA is to assess the potential environmental effects, either positive or negative, associated with the FIAP and its action area policies and to incorporate the results in the development of these policies in order to reduce potential adverse environmental effects and enhance environmental and developmental outcomes.
Summary of the Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls Action Area priority pathways: Canada’s efforts will focus on: addressing sexual and gender-based violence; supporting strong and sustainable women’s rights organizations and movements, and; supporting evidence-based policy-making, legal frameworks and program delivery for gender equality.
What are the environmental sustainability issues and linkages?
Environmental degradation has a direct impact on people’s safety, health, livelihood, and well-being.
- Exposure to toxic substances (e.g. cook stove smoke, mining and industrial contaminants, air contaminants, water pollution) affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people in developing countries. As a consequence of their vulnerable status, the poor, especially women and girls, face particular challenges.
- In some societies, daily activities like collecting water and firewood, or going to the toilet can put them at risk of rape or abuse.
- Deforestation, drought and water contamination force women and girls to increasingly walk greater distances to get the basic resources their households need, lessening the time they could spend on paid work, education, or other activities.
- Displacement can also cause physical and psychological distress in women, men and children and can lead to the increase of women’s and girls’ unpaid workloads.
- In many countries, women and girls do not have the same rights as men. This includes little or no control over land and natural resources, and limited access to environmental justice.
- Supporting awareness and the dissemination of information on these rights, engaging governments to strengthen institutional capacities to develop and implement policies and legal frameworks that protect the environment and their citizens, and supporting women’s access to and control over land, access to justice and influence on environmental protection is strongly needed. Each week, approximately four environmental defenders are killed. Women that dare to speak up to defend their lands, communities, and the environment often face risks and gender-specific challenges such as gender-based violence, criminalization, stigmatization and marginalization.
What are the potential environmental effects of the proposed pathways?
A priori, given the focus of the policy on addressing sexual and gender-based violence, supporting strong women’s rights organizations and movements, and evidence-based policy-making and program delivery for gender equality, the type of activities supported by Canada would mostly encompass awareness raising and education, capacity building (e.g. training, technical support), establishing partnerships, information sharing and communications, funding women’s rights organizations, representation and advocacy work.
What are the proposed measures to minimise potential adverse environmental effects and increase positive development outcomes?
Working towards greater empowerment of women and girls in one area could eventually affect and benefit all aspects of their lives. Opportunities for contributing to environmental outcomes and gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are many, starting with:
- Recognizing women’s agency in the management of natural resources, and implementing strategies that empower women and girls through strengthened environmental stewardship, leadership and decision-making, and the development of representation skills to demand changes that will improve the state of their environment and welfare.
- Supporting efforts to inform and educate women and girls about their rights, including their right to land, environmental laws and recourse mechanisms in areas that most directly affect their security, health and livelihood, and developing their leadership and environmental stewardship capacities.
- Advocating for, and supporting efforts of organizations to strengthen women’s participation in environmental and natural resources policy development and decision-making, to protect their environment and advocate for their access to, and control over, land and natural resources.
- Facilitating the networking, across communities, countries and regions, of rural women’s organizations that are advancing women’s rights, protecting the environment and advocating for access and control over land and natural resources.
For more information, consult the Public Statement: Strategic Environmental Assessment of Action Areas under Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy
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