Chapter contents

4a. Understanding the importance of gender equity, disability, and social inclusion issues

Among the most critical aspects of successful proposals is the inclusion of gender equity, disability, and social inclusion (GEDSI) issues. From the funder’s perspective, there are at least two reasons for this. First, part of the basic mission of organizations such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations (UN) is to improve the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable and the poorest of the poor. Second, negative impacts of climate change often fall disproportionately on these groups.

Indeed, climate change impacts tend to make existing inequalities in society even worse, in particular those between women and men and those affecting persons with disabilities (PWDs). These are often referred to as socially differentiated impacts. In other words, people and groups can experience different impacts from climate change due to entrenched discriminatory or cultural norms, unequal access to land, water, education, or other resources, or because of physical barriers.

Virtually all grant makers require projects to pay special attention to the situations of vulnerable and marginal groups,1GEDSI is often sometimes grouped under the broader category of environmental and social safeguards (ESS). and it is nearly impossible to obtain funding for a project without meaningful inclusion of GEDSI considerations. More importantly, failure to take into account GEDSI dimensions means that your project will not be as effective as it could be in reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience. Project funders want to ensure that there is equitable distribution of benefits; this means that the benefits from the project should flow to different groups (including men and women) in a fair manner and that the project will not unfairly benefit (or disadvantage) any one group over others.

Therefore, mainstreaming GEDSI into your project design is essential. This chapter provides an overview on how to do this. Note that in all cases it is useful to consult with or engage a GEDSI professional in the design of your project. Many local NGOs have significant experience with GEDSI issues, and so exploring partnerships for project design and implementation can be very beneficial.

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4b. Relationship to project design and implementation

Most if not all funding opportunities will require you to address GEDSI issues. This will be made clear in the directions for the grant, and in many cases the evaluation criteria include GEDSI considerations as well. Remember that addressing GEDSI issues is not a discrete step in project design and development, but rather should be incorporated into every step, starting from the initial research and consultations that inform the design of the project. Example criteria/questions drawn from actual proposal templates include:

  • Does the activity integrate gender equality, environmental sustainability, disaster risk reduction, and social inclusion, including people with a disability?
  • Are the majority of beneficiaries women, children, or other vulnerable groups?
  • Is there a likelihood that the project will have adverse impacts on gender equality and/or the situation for women/girls?
  • Have women’s groups/leaders raised gender equality concerns regarding the project during the stakeholder engagement process?

To address these questions and criteria in project design, mainstreaming GEDSI can be divided into three components, each of which consists of two to three tasks:

Component 1: GEDSI analysis

Task A: Understand the GEDSI context

Your project’s design should be built on a thorough understanding of how gender/social differences are manifested in your target area. This includes an analysis of the general roles that women and men play in the community. Your analysis should note any existing disparities and/or differences. Some common areas of focus include:

  • Land rights: Do women and men have different rights with respect to how land is used and owned? Does this have any bearing on vulnerability to climate change impacts? Does it have any bearing on the types of activities your project might need to include to ensure equitable distribution of benefits?
  • Division of labor and economic roles and entitlements: Are there differences in the community in terms of the types of work men and women do? Are there differences in terms of cash-earning opportunities? If there are, do these differences create additional exposure, sensitivity, or vulnerability to climate change for either men or women? Do the differences affect the ability of women or men (or other groups) to make themselves more resilient to hazards and climate change impacts?
  • Existing knowledge systems and skills regarding CCA: Are there differences between women and men or any other group with respect to the ability to access and use information?2For example, in some areas the adult literacy rate is much higher among men than women, which means that printed materials are more effective at reaching men than women. Do women and men have different skills (e.g., swimming) that make them more or less vulnerable to hazards? Do women and men have different types of knowledge that might be important with respect to climate change?
  • Power and decision-making: Are there differences between groups with respect to authority and decision-making in the community? Are women and men represented equally in local councils and decision-making bodies? Are there any factors that might limit the ability of a certain group to provide inputs into the design and subsequent implementation of the project?
  • Perceptions of risk and resilience: Do different groups have different values and priorities when it comes to hazards and climate change impacts?

Your analysis should consider access to material resources, educational resources, decision-making processes, and livelihood activities. As noted above, it helps to consult with experienced experts. Another good practice is to review gender and GEDSI analyses that have been conducted for other successful projects. Data and information can be gathered from stakeholder consultations, government statistical reports, and published reports, including, if available, the government’s gender action plan or policy framework.

Remember that special arrangements may be necessary to ensure inclusivity in stakeholder consultations. For example, you may need to hold separate focus groups for women and men or schedule meetings and consultations so that they do not conflict with women’s other activities and responsibilities. Also note that PWDs are often not able to access participatory events due to location; a common issue is that meetings are held in venues that are not accessible to PWDs.

Additionally, you should be mindful that just because individuals are present in a meeting does not mean that they are participating. Ensure that engagement is meaningful. There are many resources available that provide useful insights and best practices for ensuring that your consultative processes are genuinely inclusive. Utilize this information to ensure that your project design process is sensitive to these considerations. In particular incorporate measures to ensure that women are participating in project design activities. This includes ensuring adequate representation of women in consultative and planning meetings.

Task B: Determine gendered impacts of climate change.

The observed and expected changes in physical processes associated with climate change should be well documented in your country’s climate change strategies and policy framework (e.g., National Adaptation Plan, Joint National Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction, National Adaptation Strategy, and other relevant documents). In some cases, the different ways that climate change impacts (or is expected to impact) women and men may be described in these documents.

However, you may need to gather additional information from women in your target area through key informant interviews, focus groups, or other activities. Specific impacts on PWDs are often neglected in policies, statements, and impact assessments, and so you may need to make additional efforts to acquire this information as well. The information that you gather should be incorporated into the tools and methodologies that you utilize to develop your climate rationale (see Chapter 2).

Task C: Incorporate gender into your theory of change.

Utilizing information gathered in Tasks A and B, ensure that gender is addressed in your theory of change (see Chapter 5). The theory of change is a narrative and/or graphical representation that explains the change in vulnerability that you expect to result from your climate change adaptation project. The theory of change begins with an analysis of the drivers of vulnerability to climate change, drawing on the impact chain analysis. But it also includes social, economic, cultural, and political dimensions that contribute to vulnerability or that might increase the likelihood that people suffer harm or damage from climate change hazards.

Component 2: GEDSI-sensitive actions

Task A: Develop GEDSI-inclusive activities

Based on your theory of change, make sure to design your activities, outputs, and outcomes (see Chapter 6) to include women, PWDs, and other groups, and to address their specific vulnerabilities. This may include developing specific activities for women, which may consist of workshops or specialized learning materials. In some cases, the timing and venue of certain activities may need to be arranged to facilitate the participation of women and/or PWDs. To the extent possible, ensure that activities, information products, and other materials that your project develops are accessible to all groups.

Task B: Ensure that the implementation team will have access to GEDSI expertise

As noted above, many local NGOs have expertise in GEDSI issues, and some have dedicated experts on their staff. If your organization has this type of expertise and experience, make sure to describe how you will draw upon it in the implementation stage of the project. Be explicit about which staff member will have primary oversight responsibility for GEDSI mainstreaming.3The term “mainstreaming” describes efforts to introduce GEDSI, climate change adaptation, and other considerations that are not normally considered into day-to-day processes of planning, budgeting, and project design. For example, in the past, it was common practice to design a strategy or a project and then think about how to incorporate gender considerations after the strategy or project design process was nearly completed. Designing strategies and projects in this way means that gender is not fully integrated. A mainstreamed approach would instead incorporate gender considerations from the very beginning of strategy or project design. Funders generally look for GEDSI considerations to be mainstreamed into proposals. In addition, if some part of your project can advance the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation considerations into planning, budgeting, and other processes of governance, this is generally viewed favorably by funders. If your organization does not have expertise in GEDSI issues, describe how you will partner during implementation with an organization that does.

Make sure that your project’s governing board incorporates principles of social inclusion (i.e., an equitable split between women and men). In some cases, you may need to include capacity-building activities for project staff and other stakeholders to increase awareness and competencies with respect to GEDSI issues.

Component 3: GEDSI-sensitive monitoring and evaluation

Task A: Formulate GEDSI-sensitive monitoring targets and indicators

Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) are essential components of all projects. M&E activities help to ensure that the project is doing what it is supposed to do and provides the information necessary to make adjustments if the project is not meeting expectations. For example, the use of disaggregated indicators and targets (indicators that show how many women and men participated in an activity4For example, consider sign-in sheets for a workshop that indicate the gender of participants. or benefited from an outcome) will help to ensure gender equity in project implementation. These should be carefully considered and included in your project proposal.

In addition, if your country has developed any national GEDSI indicators or targets (e.g., in a National Gender Equality Action Plan or similar policy/strategy document), make sure that these are incorporated into your project-specific targets and indicators. Similar to when you are conducting your gender analysis, separate data collection techniques may be required for specific groups in your M&E plan.

Task B: GEDSI knowledge management

It is also important to ensure that you document the results of GEDSI activities, outputs and outcomes and that this information is incorporated into the regular reporting to your donor. Your project proposal should also include a description of how your project will ensure that knowledge and lessons learned from GEDSI activities will be captured and shared, incorporated into institutional practices, scaled up, and/or replicated. Ensure that any materials produced, such as training materials, communications materials, and other knowledge products, include GEDSI-balanced images.

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4c. Conclusion

Many variables, including gender, disability status, age, and sexual orientation, can influence how the impacts of climate change are experienced. For this reason, these considerations must be incorporated into the design of climate change adaptation projects. This chapter has provided a general overview of steps you can take to ensure that GEDSI considerations are mainstreamed into your project proposal. More resources providing greater detail are available. A list of helpful references is included in the appendix.

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