Increasingly there is evidence that women are more vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Consequently, efforts to improve sustainability can be seen as vital to achieving gender equality and women’s participation in developing solutions is vital to achieving a truly sustainable future.
The circular economy seeks to increase efficiencies by maintaining the value of products, materials and resources within the economy as long as possible. This can be done by a number of means:
Taking a circular approach to products can potentially unlock a series of economic, environmental and societal benefits. New production models can create new market opportunities. And these circular approaches can bring societal changes to how we consume and how we use products. Optimal policy solutions would require rethinking the product at its inception in order to accommodate for repair, maintenance, reuse, remanufacturing or recycling. Standards can be used at the product design phase to ensure that these considerations are integrated into the resulting product and thus contributing to the circular economy.
However, as the gender-responsive standards work within UNECE Working Party 6 has demonstrated, standards in product design can potentially affect women differently from men. Similarly, the products themselves may have different benefits for women and for men and the societal changes resulting from a circular approach may have further differences of impacts for women and for men. An understanding of the gender considerations in circular economy standards could potentially:
US statistics underline that up to 93 per cent of the global trade involves technical regulations and standards. If such standards and regulations are not gender responsive, then it may further exacerbate gender inequalities and the gender gap.