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Close the gender gap in climate change policy

Professor Dory Reeves

· Auckland Climathon

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 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 affect 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 her 2011 report 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 gender disaggreagated data on useage and needs, and a gender lens put on all projects and budgets to ensure that the needs of women as well as men, boys and 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

Dory Reeves is a Professor of Planning at the University of Auckland and a chartered fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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