MEXICO (March 1, 2013)– An interview with WEDO partner and colleague, Emilia Reyes, Director of Gender Policies and Budgets at Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia, Mexico
Q: Please describe your organization’s work and the work you have been doing with your organization and other orgs/stakeholders in Mexico as well as in international policy.
A: Equidad de Género is a civil society organization devoted to promoting gender equality and women’s rights. It has three main tracks: Defense and Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Rights; Political Empowerment and Leadership; Gender Policies and Budgets.
Within the Defense and Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Rights track, the organization does wonderful grassroots work with youth, indigenous women and women in general, promoting leadership and awareness on sexual and reproductive rights in several states and municipalities in Mexico. Also, this particular track advocates for this agenda in matters of public policies, norms and interpretation of norms throughout the country and on a regional and international level. We have developed several methodologies for monitoring health and education policies as well as several others. The work has been strengthened through close networks at local, national, regional and international level.
The Political Empowerment and Leadership track works closely with four Mexican NGOs in an Initiative called SUMA. Activities are sponsored by the Fund for Equality by UN-Women. The aim of this track is to increase the number of women in positions of decision-making in municipalities and states, as well as to strengthen an agenda of public policies for women. This track works closely with several networks to promote the agenda.
Gender Policies and Budgets provides technical tools for the public sector for the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of public policies with allocated budgets in favor of gender equality. We provide technical training for the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches at the federal, state and municipal levels of government. Also, we provide training for international organizations on this agenda. We have three main fields in which we have developed specialized methodologies: gender budgets, gender mainstreaming, and climate change. The three of them are intertwined, but each of them requires great effort and specific skills.
In regard to climate change, Equidad de Género takes part in an alliance of civil society organizations called Grupo Mexicano de Financiamiento para el Cambio Climatico (Mexican Climate Finance Group). The Group works under three cross-cutting principles: the human rights framework, gender equality and sustainability criteria. Every recommendation and action derived from the Group integrates these three components. We work on monitoring and evaluating two main fields related to climate change: financing and budgets. So far, we have worked with the federal budget and have been monitoring international funding for climate change projects. We have also promoted local policies and norms, such as the General Law on Climate Change and currently we are promoting the insertion of our three principles in the subsequent norms, institutional architecture and actions derived from that Law. On an international level, Equidad de Género works with the Mexican Climate Finance Group on advocacy work.
Another important and substantial ally in the international scenario is WEDO. We have been working together since 2010 in several international negotiations, advocating for women’s rights and providing with technical tools to several stakeholders for integrating in a comprehensive manner the gender perspective in the Climate Change framework.
Q: What prompted your organization to become involved in sustainable development issues, particularly international climate change policy?
A: We are convinced that there can be no development without equality. And equality should be achieved in every field of human life. This is why we are involved in the promotion of equality in a comprehensive way, and that includes, for sure, striving within the logic of sustainable development. So far, there has been a misunderstanding in regard to gender equality. It has been understood as a narrow field in which women are isolated and therefore are subjects to some public policies, but not in an integral manner. To us, it is about human life. And human life is related to all spheres of life in the world, including our natural surroundings.
Discrimination based on gender is the cause of many inequalities that in the end have damaged the quality of life of women around the globe. This is why –not because they are women, but because the conditions of inequality they live in- that women are more affected than men in the case of crises (financial, alimentary, social, environmental, and on). Thus, it is imperative to attend to the needs and interests of women. In that respect, evidence shows with more accuracy every day that women suffer the biggest impact of climate change. This is why we cannot avoid being involved in one of the most decisive agendas of our times.
Q: What have been your greatest obstacles as well as your greatest achievements since you have been involved in gender and climate change advocacy at national and international levels?
1) Difficulty in transmitting human rights to governmental officers or negotiators, since climate change appears to their eyes as a technical or scientific matter, and not related to daily life.
2) Difficulty in transmitting the principle of gender equality to environmentalists, since they are more willing to acknowledge inequality gaps due to income or ethnical conditions than gender inequality gaps.
3) Or, if governmental officers, negotiators and environmentalists do acknowledge the importance of women, they can only see them as victims or “vulnerable groups” in specific agendas, such as in adaptation or in certain activities, such as education or health. It has been difficult to transmit that women are taking part in every field of human life, and therefore the grey or the blue agenda are as important to women –and concern them as well as men – as adaptation or health.
4) The conception that women’s functions are the caring of family and their communities –and, in recent times, environment- makes it difficult to state that men should also share a joint responsibility in every dimension of human life. This means, in the practice, that at times projects and policies designed with a good intention are, in the end, adding an extra burden on women, since they rely on non-paid work.
1) Slowly, we have joined our efforts to every agent willing to raise the voice so that gender and climate change are no longer distant agendas. In the national as well as in the international field, we have begun to detect strategic stakeholders with which we can push the matter a step further.
2) By now we can say that we have solid national and international networks. Each of the stakeholders has exceptional expertise that has been fundamental in developing more precise and accurate interventions. We feel proud that we are taking part in a major effort to reach a sustainable and equal world. We have learned so much from our counterparts in women’s and environmentalist’s organizations, that we cannot but feel that we are in the right track building a better world for women and men alike in a breathing environment.
3) The Mexican Climate Finance Group has integrated the principle of gender equality along with human rights’ framework and sustainability criteria. It has meant that in each action the Group has promoted, gender equality has been included. We have deepened the degree of integration of a gender perspective in our recommendations, and we expect to develop a methodology of certain points of entry, such as an analysis or elaboration of budgets. On an international level, this same network has promoted recommendations in which gender equality has been a systematic element. Equidad de Género, along with other actors, has been crucial to this comprehensive integration of the gender perspective.
4) International: Several regional networks have been interested in replicating the experience of the Mexican Climate Finance Group, and we have been working towards a Latin- American chapter, including gender equality as one of the three cross-cutting principles. This, which refers as well to every other organization part of the Group, is a major advancement towards the definition of a common cause throughout the region, in which gender equality, human rights and sustainability are at the core of the actions.
 Composed by: AIDA, Bicitecas, Bicired, CCC, CEMDA, CTSEmbarq Mexico, Comunicación y Educación Ambiental, CCMSS, Fundar, Greenpeace, Heinrich Böll, ITDP, Sakbe, Transparencia Mexicana, and Equidad de Genero: Ciudadania, Trabajo y Familia.