Incorporating a gender perspective into the new agreement

Legal assistance paper

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Date produced: 17/11/2015

In Article 7, paragraph 1, on Technology transfer and development, some Parties have introduced a reference to “responding to gender sensitive needs”. What does this addition mean, and what are its potential implications and advantages?


Gender issues have been increasingly recognised as an integral part of the international community’s efforts to address climate change. All measures taken to respond to climate change – whether focused on adaptation, loss and damage, mitigation, finance, technology or capacity building – have a gender dimension, and this could be reflected in the agreement.

It can be said that the phrase “responding to gender sensitive needs” corresponds to an effort to incorporate a gender perspective on this issue.

Gender mainstreaming is, by definition, a “process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and social spheres, such as inequality between men and women is not perpetuated.” (Agreed Conclusions on Gender Mainstreaming. Geneva: United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1997)

In relation to technology development and transfer more specifically, it is likely that they are more affected by the barriers to dissemination and uptake of technology, hence the desire to make their needs explicit in the text.

Throughout the world, technologies are often considered to be within the purview of men. Gender norms about men’s control of technology, information, and knowledge limit women’s opportunities to learn, use, and benefit from technologies. Furthermore, across developing countries, women bear a disproportionate burden of household and family responsibilities, such as cooking, cleaning, and fetching fuel or water, as well as child and elder care. This heavy burden of unpaid household responsibilities often leads to the absence of discretionary time women can dedicate to personal interests, including learning skills that would allow them to access and utilise new technologies.

Incorporating a ‘gender focus’ would potentially advance policies in this field that address these structural barriers and are sensitive to the differentiated impacts on men and women equally.