GLAND, Switzerland- The Environment and Gender Index (EGI) is a groundbreaking new measure that, for the first time in history, provides quantitative data on how nations are incorporating global gender and environmental mandates into their national policy and planning.
The EGI was developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which was founded in 1948 as the world’s first global environmental organization. Today, it serves as a leading authority on biodiversity conservation, environmental governance and nature-based solutions to global challenges. IUCN’s Global Gender Office focuses solely on addressing gender equality issues within the environmental sector.
IUCN’s Environment and Gender Index is the Global Gender Office’s latest and most far-reaching project concerning the inclusion of gender equality into environmental policy. Though governments have established international mandates incorporating the two issues for decades, the lack of a measurement standard to monitor progress in this field has allowed for little implementation of the planned measures. The EGI is working to fill this gap.
The EGI is a composite index that ranks 72 countries around the world using 27 dimensions from six categories, including: livelihood, ecosystem, gender-based rights and participation, governance, gender-based education and assets, and country-reported activities. According to the EGI website, this approach facilitates both global and regional comparisons, as well as individual country strengths and weaknesses. Through this measure, countries will be able to gauge how they measure up to other countries in terms of their efforts to tackle gender inequality and environmental degradation.
In the global North, the connection between gender and the environment may seem hazy at best. Perhaps this is because the average Westerners are not forced to directly rely on the natural resources around them for their livelihood. However, for many in developing countries, the surrounding environment is an unavoidable component of their daily lives, especially in the lives of the rural poor.
The bottom line is that environmental degradation and climate change affect communities, and groups within those communities, disproportionately. Some of the most harshly affected in developing countries are women. While there are a host of reasons that a diminishing environment especially affects women – including little access to information, limited land rights and gendered family roles – it can be argued that all result from an underlying issue of global gender inequality.
Set to be launched on November 19, 2013 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, the EGI will better equip countries across the world with the ability to take a collective stance against this grave social ill.
– Tara Young
Sources: Women Deliver, The Environment and Gender Index, IUCN, Asia Foundation
Photo: Swiss Info