Environment like gender equality is a cross-cutting issue that is relevant in all aspects of development. Long-term development is not possible if biodiversity is destroyed, climate changes, and there is an increased incidence of disasters in natural hazards. Climate change and disaster risk are fundamental threats to sustainable development. Building disaster-resilient and sustainable societies mean addressing both climate and disaster risks from a gender perspective and integrating these into development planning and budgeting.
The country struggles every year in coping with the impacts of climate change and disasters. However, the unexpected and rapid spread of the highly infectious Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which started in 2020, has posed an enormous challenge that highly widens the gender gap. It affects the provisioning of healthcare, delivery of assistance and goods in the supply chain, food security, evacuation centers, isolation and quarantine facilities, and available frontline services.
The interconnectedness of risks posed by climate change and disasters with the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacts the poorest and most marginalized – be it through gender inequality, age, disability, or any other intersecting vulnerability – who are the most susceptible to the risk. Thus, making a solid case for the need for adaptive, inclusive, equitable climate and disaster-resilient development measures.
The key players in the government for the environment sector are the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD). These three (3) agencies are members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Other agencies that have vital contributions in the environment sector are the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
Priority Sectoral Gender Issues
Climate change and disaster are not gender-neutral. Hence it is clear that its impacts will affect women, girls, men and boys differently given the different roles and responsibilities at the household and community levels. Therefore, it is imperative to adopt meaningful climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies to limit negative impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods.
The client-focused gender issues identified in the environment sector are:
Vulnerability of women and girls, including those of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE), persons with disabilities, and IP and Muslim women to gender-based violence during and after disasters
No official numbers have been published on trends in gender-based violence cases in the aftermath of typhoons or disasters. However, there are reports from many actors engaged in the post-humanitarian response. Among the many reports during and right after a disaster is the increased vulnerability of women and girls to various forms of sexual and gender-based violence. Displaced women and children are often at risk of sexual violence trying to meet their basic needs. In areas where human trafficking is widely prevalent, disasters may provide opportunities for traffickers to recruit unaccompanied children.
Women are under-represented in decision-making processes at local and national levels of the DRRM phases of disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and rehabilitation and recovery.
While women and girls’ vulnerability is widely recognized, their unique capacities and contributions to adaptation across the disaster management cycle have not been considered or explored. Women are under-represented in decision-making processes at local and national levels, and their needs and concerns are not often adequately integrated into development programming and policy.
The lack of women leaders or heads of offices, especially in the national and local government bodies, has also been observed. Women are also key agents of change, and their unique knowledge is essential to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction efforts. Hence, their full and effective participation is indispensable.
Limited capacity of sectoral agencies to mainstream gender perspectives in its policy, programs, projects and activities
Gender mainstreaming is not just about adding women. It means looking at women and men and their relationships, both as catalysts in the process and as beneficiaries. This is being operationalized by building GAD capacities of sectoral agencies in all areas, and at all levels of program and project implementation.
The sectoral agencies need to be capacitated on:
- Basic Gender Analysis (GA) and/or deepening sessions on GA, especially with GA Tools such as the Harmonized Gender and Development Guidelines (HGDG) and Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework
- GAD Planning and Budgeting and GAD Agenda
- Other relevant GAD training/conferences and seminars (e.g., use of sex-disaggregated data and/or gender statistics, the conduct of Gender Impact Assessment or GAD audit)