climate-change

Climate financing as Gender equality catalyst[1]

Relations between climate change and gender equality are more and more in the focus. A lot (but not nearly enough) has already been said about disproportional effects that climate change have on women, who constitute the majority of the population already affected by climate change or being under the direct threat. Worldwide, women have less access to opportunities such as change of job, to travel, own land, participate in legal/political/social processes and decision making, etc. All this lower women’s access and possibilities to equally (if at all) participate in local and global processes of fighting climate change.

I would like to believe that we do not have to open the debate why gender perspective should be taken into account when talking about climate change. If not for the all above mentioned, women account for about 50% of the population and we can’t ignore half of the target group.

However tireless efforts of the civil society, activists and politicians succeeded in bringing to light gender perspective in climate change discussions, education, and decision making. Hereby we will take a short look into climate financing and its gender perspectives.

First of all it has to be clear that making climate finance gender sensitive did not happen just like that. We should rather see it as big victory for outspoken climate feminists. Two basic perspectives on which this framework is based on are: true sustainability can not be achieved without gender perspective, and gender equality can not be achieved unless integrated at the very beginning of the process and in every aspect of the process.

Speaking about concrete funds[2], for example, already in 2011 Kyoto protocol Adaptation fund and Global Environmental Facility (GEF) had certain gender mainstreaming references. These were important steps but there was still a lot to be done. In 2014 for example only 18% of the projects under the GEF Climate mitigation work addressed gender.

The Green climate fund is the first multilateral fund to include gender equality in all layers of its work. For example gender equality as regards boards or staff is not only applicable to the fund’s own structure but to all stakeholders’ as well. All implementers of the project need to prove gender mainstreamed portfolio, proving that gender equality is not only a project requirement for one small part of their act, but organically embedded in the stakeholders’ principles of operation. This affects multinational banks, development funds, consulting agencies and other institutions that were of course not the biggest fans of #WomenOnBoards alike initiatives. Needless to say that when it came to final beneficiaries, projects needed to prove a sustainable contribution to gender equality and an improved position of women.

It is worth mentioning that climate funds’ gendered regulations work in favor for small to medium enterprises, as they are more likely to be owned by women or at least have better gender balance records then big multinational consortiums. Thus we see that gender regulations boost diversification of involved actors as well as make climate action more rooted to the local level.

Climate funds are contributing to gender equality a great deal. Though we need to safeguard achieved regulations and make them mandatory for other funds as well. Civil society, women organizations, etc. must be involved in monitoring and evaluation processes and ensure that work done through climate funds complement and amplify our struggles for women rights in other fields as well.

/Vesna Jusup

Works with member relations at the European Green Party secretariat 

Former project leader at Cooperation and Development Network of Eastern Europe

 

[1] *This text was inspired and fueled by Liane Schalatek, Associate director at Heinrich Boell Foundation North America office, who tirelessly pushes for gender issues to be in the agenda of Climate discussions and close to the heart of the Climate financing

[2] Schalatek, Nakhooda: Gender and Climate Finance, Overseas development institute, 2016  https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/9321.pdf

 

Somewhere over the rainbow – First LGBT minister in Serbian government

On 24th April Serbia held extraordinary elections, third general elections in 4 years.  Frequency of the elections is such that it’s hard to call them extra-ordinary any more. As same parties won more or less same percentage and carriers of the lists are more or less the same as in last 15 years, it really seems that attribute of extraordinary is completely overrates.

But than, on 11th of August PM announced new government[1] and something extraordinary did happened.  As it goes in last years, we have two types of ministers. Ministers who are there by political line. We all know their names and competences do not matter that much as in every government they get to be ministers of different sector. Other group are ministers that are served to public as the experts in their sphere; whose competences we are supposed to blindly trust and everyone have hard time remembering their name (at least until the first scandal).

Ana Brnabić, despite being from the 2nd group of ministers was the one whose name got to the press immediately. She has not been yet in the office properly and her competences were already scanned within tiniest detail. Did I say competences?? Oh, sorry I meant personal life. New minister of public administration and local governance is, by the words of the Prime minister himself, member of the LGBT community.

Prime minister was on a top of the task and started casual damsel in distress defense. He explained that she admitted it to him and that she was ready to step down if it’s a problem – with the rhetoric of toddler that do something bad, who decides to admit it to the parents and hope to be released from punishment for the honesty. I guess we should all conclude how our PM is so generous and smart to put good of the government and her competences over something personal and obviously less worthy. He also added that she is LGBT but she is nice and lovely. Does this mean that others are not? Is nice and lovely opposite of what LGBT people are, so that we need to make sure that public understands that she is both?  He closed his defense by saying that he stands behind his choice (as she is the right person because he picked her and not because of her competences).

I do not want to take historical moment away. Yes, it is huge step for LGBT community in Serbia to have lesbian minister.  But as we saw on the example of women in politics, having vice-president of the government does not mean that women are now equally participating in political life.  That is why we should greet new minister and wish her all the luck in her new work, for the sake of her, for the sake of LGBT population and Serbian local governance as being her responsibility.

But we should not be deceived that this puts human rights in Serbia on any higher level.  Justice, health, education, labor still do not treat LGBT as equal, their basic freedoms are still limited and there is constant treat of different forms of violence over them. In country with high recession, soaring national debt, shady privatizations, high corruption index, limited media freedom and heavy austerity measures social rights are shrinking in their outreach and power.

Having an LGBT minister is important, however in society of limited public recognition every outed individual bears pressure of and responsibility for whole community. This means that her work in spheres of local governance is going to be under the load of her LGBT profile as well, as much as LGBT community will have now to take load of her ministerial work.

There has already been meeting with her and LGBT organizations, as one of few Governmental meetings to discuss LGBT rights. But we must name things as they are. Yes we have LGBT minister but her work lies in different domain and she has no jurisdiction over social issues. Such bridging of responsibilities within Ministries is neither feasible to her as individual, nor as Minister, nor its realistic. So until Prime minister, responsible ministries and state apparatus stand with and behind LGBT community in their black on white demands and proposal on legislations changes and investments, in at least tolerant if not solidarity based society, we should not rush to greet new Serbian government for being so inclusive and moving under the rainbow.

/Vesna Jusup 

Works with member relations at the European Green Party secretariat 

Former project leader at Cooperation and Development Network of Eastern Europe

 

[1] Small reminder on previous text on this blog; this government has 5 out of 20 Ministers (including PM), not event fulfilling 30% quota of women participation. By the time text is written we still do not know final convolution of the Parliament, but hopes to move step further in equal participation are very low and non-extraordinary.

 

Divest now!

Divestment is a process on the opposite side of investment. It implies withdrawal of stocks, bonds or investment funds from fossil fuel companies. At the same time divestment is a powerful political tool to point out core problems, to target perpetrators rather than users/victims and to point out necessary changes of the financial system.

Throughout history there have been several divestment campaigns that contributed to changes in sectors they had targeted. For ex. campaigns against military actions in Darfur[1], Tobacco industry[2], etc.  Perhaps the most famous example was the Divestment campaign as regards the Apartheid system in South Africa[3].

Concerning Divestment from fossil fuels, the argumentation is built around 3 arguments:

  1. Moral argument – To illustrate it, the best way would be to quote Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org: “If it’s wrong to wreck the climate then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage”. To reach the Paris climate goals, up to 80 percent of fossil fuel reserves have to remain in the ground.
  1. Democratic argument – is applicable to investment funds over which citizens should have ownership. Pensions funds, Universities, Local authorities and city/municipal governments, etc. These investments must be transparent and citizens must have a say in the way money is used. If we elect local governments on bases of their political programme we must ensure that their investments with public money are also following the same political line. Having said that, as so many elected politicians on different levels pledge their support and will to combat climate change, one could expect huge amounts of public funds to be divested from fossil fuel industries any time soon.
  1. Financial argument – If a vast majority of fossil fuel reserves will not be used due to strict climate policies, fossil fuel companies (and their shares) will lose value dramatically. Therefore, foresighted investors are already backing out of fossil fuel investments, not (only) for moral reasons, but because of the financial risk these investments are bearing.

Divestment is not only about stopping or slowing down damaging processes. The potential of divestment lies in the fact that financial means remain at our disposal to invest them in sustainable activities/industries. Investing in a development of renewable energy will never be easier than in times when we divest public and private money from fossil fuel industries.

The real power of divestment is in the fact that it delegitimizes the fossil fuel industry and that it expands a notion of political participation to finances and raise the demand for full transparency and accountability of the ones we elect to govern.

At the end, it is important to mention the campaign Divestment from Fossil fuels[4]. It is clear that the world energy supply cannot continue on its fossil basis and that complexity of climate change needs to be tackled through different means. One thing we can do is to demand, among others, our municipalities, our banks, our universities, our pension fund, our churches, and our insurances to divest from fossil fuels. Divest now!

/Vesna Jusup 

Works with member relations at the European Green Party secretariat 

Former project leader at Cooperation and Development Network of Eastern Europe 

 

[1] http://fpif.org/divestment_ending_the_genocide_in_darfur/

[2] https://www.nsra-adnf.ca/cms/file/files/NSRA%20MLT%20Divestment%20Fact%20Sheet%20Dec14%20final2.pdf

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disinvestment_from_South_Africa

[4] https://europeangreens.eu/fossilfree2016

Gender equality in Serbian politics

Politician, politician, woman, politician, politician, women, ….

The (mis)use of mathematics for successful avoidance of true gender equality

Gender equality is term very well known in Serbian politics, but there its prevalence stops. Recent general elections withheld on 24th April, confirmed that political parties are ready to meet legal requirements but have no initiative to go any step further. Most of the candidates lists featured women on every third place, respecting official 1/3 gender quota. Last convolution of the National Parliament featured 33.73% of the woman MPs proving that at the current stage it is only math that can keep women above the negligence line.

During her Women’s’ day speech, coordinator of Governmental Coordination body for gender equality said that everything we do vesnawe do for next generation of women to come after us. This might be just poetic sentence but more likely it illustrates how gender equality is rather seen as alienated status, to be achieved in far future because now its to far from our understanding of democracy and political system we live and work in.

Academy of women leadership conducted research in November 2015 on several aspects of gender equality in political parties in Serbia. Their research showed that women are more likely to run on local elections, compared to men running on national elections. This data becomes terrifying when confronted with statistic that shows only 16% of women holding positions on local level, after the elections in 2014. More over trend of all male local and municipal councils was rising as women are more likely to drop out during mandate and in most cases have been replaced by man.

Another finding of this study shows that 60% men and 50% women see gender equality as predominantly a women topic and in competences of exclusively women organizations/forums. It shows that there is no consensus on seeing gender equality as a transversal aspect. Thus distinction between women and men sectors gets strengthened and quotas get to be last stop instead of being last resort.

Mentioned Coordination body for gender equality was established in 2014 and after preliminary research it adopted National strategy for gender equality for the period 2016-2020, with action plan until 2018.  Participation of women in political and decision making processes is mostly regulated by introduction of quota system (30%) and administrative regulations. It is also mentioning active work with political parties on education and exchange of good practices to ensure strong participation of women in and between elections. But as we have witnessed, not a single percent changed yet and 30% quota still acts at the same time as cap, administrative requirement and supportive measure.

The tragedy of political underrepresentation does not start with inadequate quota, it is rather a mere repercussion of patriarchal matrix in Serbian society as whole. The re-traditionalization effect is enhanced by ever more present shift of the care work from public to private sphere, pressuring women to stay at home or work in the “care” sector (education, health, cleaning, NGOs). This situation leaves very little capacity for women to participate in institutional political life and/or running for positions.

How do we break through? Government and officials need to pledge their support and involvement in process of building gender equality, shifting from the notion of necessary measure to the notion of desired status.  Media and civil sector play pivotal role in indicating how this is transversal framework of all policies and processes.

Importance of gender equality in politics for Serbia is not only to ensure equal participation and representation. It matters also as step to further democratization by opening politics to diverse groups and reclaiming it from political elites.

/Vesna Jusup 

Works with member relations at the European Green Party secretariat 

Former project leader at Cooperation and Development Network of Eastern Europe 

Presentation Vesna Jusup