Building an Information Bridge to Gender Equality

Imagine you are an engineer tasked with building a bridge. On your first day on the job you are handed a blueprint, but discover that a critical tool is missing to carry out the work effectively. This is the conundrum faced by the gender and environment field. The blueprint is in place in the form of numerous international agreements to address gender inequalities in environmental and sustainable development arenas. But an important tool to address women’s and men’s relationship to the environment—sex-disaggregated data and information—is virtually nonexistent. Not having this information makes it difficult to implement these agreements to address gender inequality.

Why is this missing information a problem? Without a full picture of the relationship that women and men have to biodiversity, agriculture, water, energy, and other resources, it is impossible to design effective solutions. More comprehensive information shines a light on what individuals and communities value most. It enhances environmental policies and programming, and targets resources more effectively. In the absence of this information, initiatives meant to tackle poverty or protect environmental resources could end up not meeting their goals, and possibly having negative impacts.

Tackling the invisibility of gender in the environmental arena is a driving force behind the creation of the Global Gender and Environment Outlook (GGEO). Through the GGEO, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) took stock of global quantitative and qualitative information at the intersection of gender and environment. Compiling this information into one resource for the first time provides an important baseline for the Sustainable Development Goals, and will aid in UNEP’s environmental assessment processes.

What data did we find on gender and environment? As outlined below, a limited number of datasets that cover many countries, numerous studies focused on one country or small geographic area, and overall a concerning lack of information about this field.


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