Last week, in Bishkek, at the seminar "Climate change: Empowering women and children though promotion of gender equality in the KR" experts from different countries discussed gender-related environmental topics.

Excerpts from the speech of the Ministry of Emergencies
Based on the Law on Civil Protection, the tasks of the state system of Civil Protection include reducing vulnerability and preventing violence against women and children during emergencies. This year, the Regulation on the procedure for interaction between state authorities and local self-government, as well as other organizations and citizens to reduce the risks of violence against women and children in emergency and crisis situations was approved.

Earlier, in 2011, a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation was signed between several ministries of the Kyrgyz Republic and a subcluster to prevent gender-based violence. The document approved standard operating procedures (SOPs) for intersectoral collaboration for the prevention and response to gender-based violence, based on international experience, based on 4 basic international principles: ensuring the safety and protection of the victim, maintaining confidentiality, being respectful and non-discriminatory towards the victim.

Currently, the Ministry of Emergencies of the Kyrgyz Republic, together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, with the assistance of non-governmental and international organizations, is working on the development of a single interagency Instruction on measures / actions of government bodies and Civil Protection forces in responding to gender-based violence in emergency and crisis situations.

Ecology and gender

Experts of the Kyrgyzstan BIOM environmental movement noted that despite the equal opportunities for men and women enshrined in the Constitution and other regulatory acts, gender issues were not reflected in some documents. For example, in the Concept of the green economy, the Concept of environmental safety. The adoption of the National Strategy for Gender Equality and the Law on “State Guarantees of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women” were noted as positive achievements. The National Development Strategy for 2018-2040 integrates the goals of achieving Sustainable Development Goals, including the 5th Goal “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” and the 13th Goal “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts"

Environmentalists said that economic growth in Kyrgyzstan is mainly due to the uncontrolled use of natural resources. Almost 4 million people live in rural areas. More than 88% of farmland is recognized as degraded and is subject to desertification processes. Restoration of pasture ecosystems can take from 10 to hundreds of years. About 40% of the population is not provided with clean drinking water. 79% of the population is not provided with a central water disposal system.

The country lacks long-term socially-oriented measures aimed at adapting the population to climate change. There is a gap in living conditions between cities and villages, as well as persistent trends in the dilapidation of infrastructure in the regions.

Why is it important to talk about gender in the context of climate change? There is an expert gap between climate and gender discourse. Women and men have different perceptions of the effects of climate change, and this must be taken into account when solving environmental problems. According to scientists from the United States, even slight changes in temperature or precipitation lead to a surge in aggression: cases of violence are becoming more frequent, military conflicts begin. A rise in temperature on the planet by just 2 degrees can lead to an increase in individual crimes by 15% and mass conflicts by 50% in certain regions.

BIOM experts analyzed the representation of women in environmental decision-making bodies. The head of the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry is 100% comprises men, as well as the commission for the distribution of hunting grounds. Women are represented in the staff of the Agency (31%) and the public council (33%). Out of 148 public inspectors, only 6 are women.

Of the 454 active pasture committees in the country, about 11 (2.4%) are headed by women. There is a low participation of women at the decision-making level on water supply. Women spend most of their time caring for their families and providing living conditions to the detriment of productive activities or participation in public life.

The positive examples of women's participation in environmental issues include the creation of a shepherd’s school in the village of Shabdan, in which rural women took the initiative to preserve knowledge about traditional forms of nomadism. Also, these women suggested to create an ethno-botanical nursery to preserve local species of apple trees.

BIOM experts recommended considering women as a significant subject of transformations, gender aspects should be reflected in at least 50% of the targets for biodiversity conservation and climate change. Women's leadership is critical to the effective management of natural resources. It is necessary to conduct research on the impact of climate change on various social groups in order to develop a strategy involving representatives of these groups. The conservation of natural resources of ecosystems is important for life on the planet, it is important for all: men and women.

Experience exchange

Atlas of Natural Hazards of Georgia

An interesting presentation by Nino Gaprindashwili from Georgia related to the successful implementation of the Atlas of natural hazards and risks. The goal of the Atlas is to provide information on potential natural hazards, risks and socio-economic vulnerability. Atlas information is in demand by various departments, governing bodies, insurance companies, research institutes, and the population.

Gulshan Akhundova from Azerbaijan in her speech spoke about the impact of climate change on gender issues. In her country, 48% of the rural population is women. The expert noted the lack of research on climate change in the context of gender.
According to an expert with reference to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, the signs and consequences of climate change increased by 0.8%.

In order to promote the principles of the green economy in the country, a small project was implemented to provide 10-15 families with solar panels in rural and remote regions.
Climate Change Risk Reduction in Turkmenistan
An expert Berkeli Ataev spoke about the climate problems of Turkmenistan. The organization "Society for the Protection of Nature of Turkmenistan" last year celebrated its 50th anniversary. Now it has more than 250 thousand members in the country.

Expert Ataev noted that the growth of Turkmenistan is mainly due to hydrocarbons. Climate change is likely to lead to major environmental, economic and social changes. There is a risk of a shortage of drinking water due to melting glaciers. In agriculture, more attention will be concerned to the problems of drought and desertification. Extreme weather conditions will put a strain on the health sector.

Therefore, the country actively supports decisions aimed at reducing the risks of the negative effects of climate change. In order to reduce the greenhouse effect, the country is implementing a program to grow deciduous trees to increase the absorption of greenhouse gases. A project for the production of bio-fertilizers from agricultural waste is successfully working. Thus, the production of organic fertilizers and the reduction of agricultural waste emitting greenhouse gases are being established.

Alternative energy sources are being introduced: solar, wind, geothermal, biofuel. Bans on the import of environmentally inefficient refrigerants have been introduced, and water and natural gas meters are installed everywhere.

In June 2019, a gas chemical factory for the production of gasoline was launched in Ashgabat. The synthesis of natural gas in liquid fuels is a much more environmentally friendly production process than traditional from crude oil.

Group Work

After presenting 5 reports from different countries, the seminar participants began working in groups to discuss the impact of climate change on gender issues and showed common difficulties.
The first group identified one of the urgent problems of access to clean drinking water in rural areas, which is associated with sanitation and hygiene that affects people's health. It was suggested to have monitoring and control by civil society, the creation of communication platforms with the participation of women.

Another group noted problems: women's participation in election processes, financing of women's initiatives to promote the principles of the green economy, lack of information on climate change, discrimination against women (an canceled list of 400 professions banned for women), lack of safe or poor local infrastructure (roads, lighting, waiting places), failure to fulfill international obligations in the field of ecology.
As decisions, expert Asel Dunganaeva noted the need to strengthen monitoring of the normative legal acts, attracting the donor community to implement effective projects, creating a safe infrastructure taking into account the risks and climate change.

The third group noted a different understanding of relevant problems by state bodies and the population, for the solution of which it is necessary to strengthen the interaction of local self-government and the population. Among other problems, a lack of funding for environmental issues was voiced.

All groups agreed on the lack of information among the population about environmental issues, and difficulties in accessing clean drinking water in rural areas.

Suggested recommendations will be summarized and sent to the Jogorku Kenesh, the Presidential Administration, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

Seminar “Climate change: Empowering women and children though promotion of gender equality in the KR", organized by BDK (Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan) in partnership with WLP, was held as part of the week of the XIII International Festival of Documentary Films on Human Rights “Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan”.