Women’s Resilience in Mongolia: How Laws and Policies Promote Gender Equality in Climate change and Disaster Risk Management (June 2022)


Executive Summary

Mongolia has a strong capacity for sustainable development due to its highly skilled, educated, and resilient population and a wealth of natural resources. It also faces significant sustainability and environmental challenges that are amplified by climate change. The harsh climate, substantial natural hazards, and unique geography are compounded by rapid growth that relies on coal-based energy and the dominant economic sectors of mining and pastoralism that both also contribute to ecological challenges. Coal remains the primary energy source and energy demand is increasing with economic and population growth. Air pollution has become a major issue in the growing city of Ulaanbaatar, with increasing vehicle traffic and nearby coal-fired power stations that contribute to both greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and pollutants. This creates tension between climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement, economic growth targets, and significant social and health concerns, particularly for women and children.

Pastoralism still provides the livelihood of 40% of the population, and the industry is highly vulnerable to natural hazards, especially climate extremes and desertification. Mongolia is already one of the most arid countries in the world, with over 90% of the territory classified as arid to moisture deficient, which is exacerbated by deforestation and land degradation. Climate change adds another layer to sustainability issues. Since 1950, average mean temperatures have increased three times faster than the global average. Rather than resulting in a generally milder climate, the magnitude and frequency of climatic hazards appear to be increasing, especially summer droughts leading to winter dzuds (a sudden freezing event). Climate projections for Mongolia indicate harsher winter conditions for pastoralists due to heavier winter snow and more dzud events, along with poorer quality summer pasture, and a reduction in wheat yields for crop farmers. The resulting challenges for Mongolia include rural impoverishment, rapid urbanization, and changes in education and work opportunities that also impact family relations and work-related gender roles. These challenges can negatively impact the overall gender equality situation.

The successes of Mongolia in progressing gender equality in health and education are noteworthy; yet the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 found that overall, the ranking of Mongoila has fallen from its 2016 indices in three out of the four areas.a Particular areas of concern are political empowerment, and economic participation and opportunity. There are also serious concerns about the persistence of gender-based violence. These key areas of socioeconomic development are likely to be exacerbated further with the increasing rise in climate and disaster related risks. Therefore—important alongside the challenges of combating disaster and climate impacts— there is a need for women and men to move forward with increased equality of outcomes. This requires a focus on improving gender equality in key socioeconomic areas, as well as specific attention to the way disasters and climate change impact women and men differently in Mongolia, and how laws and policy responses can be more gender responsive.

The purpose of this report was to conduct a gender analysis of the national legal and policy frameworks of Mongolia to determine whether laws, policies, and strategies consider gender inequalities as they relate to climate and disaster risk and contribute to strengthening women’s resilience. The laws of a country set the legal framework and provide the foundation to regulate a sector and guarantee fundamental rights, and policies should further amplify legal provisions and implement legislative guarantees. For the analysis in this report, a National Good Practice Legislative Framework has been developed. The framework draws on (i) the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) General Recommendation No. 37 on the Gender-related dimensions of disaster risk reduction in the context of climate change (CEDAW GR37); and (ii) a newly published report on best practice legal frameworks in Asia and the Pacific, which assists in selecting laws and policies related to the national approach to gender equality, climate, and disaster risks as well as socioeconomic development to be gender analyzed. The analysis of the selected laws and policies inform an assessment of the extent to which equality and discrimination concepts are explicit in laws and policies and how this affects women’s resilience to climate and disaster risks. The report refers to gender and gender-responsiveness as much as possible rather than to women only. The report methodology included secondary data collection and analysis, supported by a country mission, stakeholder interviews, and national workshops.

Results of the analysis found a high commitment to addressing gender equality and prohibiting discrimination; these concepts—as well as international law on the topic—are imported into the Constitution of Mongolia, the Law on the Promotion of Gender Equality (LPGE)—which is considered global best practice,—and the National Programme on Gender Equality (NPGE). The LPGE has also generated the development of 11 gender responsive sector strategies. For example, these include the Population, Labor and Social Protection Sector Strategy; the Food, Agriculture, and Light Industry Sector Strategy; and—particularly relevant to this report—the Environmental Sector Strategy; all of which are explicit in the promotion of gender equality and nondiscrimination.

Despite these achievements, the analysis reveals that there is a distinct lack of commitment to equality and nondiscrimination in key disaster risk management, environment, and climate change laws and policies. Disaster risk management and environmental laws rely on the inclusion of the Constitution and make no explicit mention of the LPGE or gender equality. Notable exceptions are the National Action Programme on Climate Change (NAPCC) 2011—which includes gender equality as an implementation principle and mentions the need to promote the representation of women in international and regional forums,—and the Environment Sector Gender Strategy. Similar findings from a close analysis of energy laws and policies reveal no integration of equality and non-discrimination principles and no mention of the gender dimensions of energy considered in laws or policies related to energy.

In addition to sector-specific laws and policies, several laws governing socioeconomic areas which can contribute to building women’s resilience to climate change and disaster risk were analyzed. The report focuses on three areas (i) combating gender-based violence (GBV), (ii) improving women’s access to assets, and (iii) improving access by women to decent work. Findings reveal the Mongolia Law to Combat Domestic Violence is a best practice law. However, concerns exist around gender responsive implementation of this law, including insufficient access to shelters and services for women during normal times. This issue becomes even more critical in the context of disaster risk management.

In terms of women’s access to assets, the Civil Code and Family Law regard all assets and properties of marriage and family as joint property and declare an equal right to inheritance. However, research on actual practice shows that men are twice as likely as women to be documented (51% men versus 27% women), reported dwelling owners (60% men versus 33% women), or livestock related property owners (33% men versus 18% women) in Mongolia.
When it comes to agricultural land, a very low rate of both documented (6% men versus 1% women) and reported (8% men versus 2% women) possession for both men and women exists. Awareness about alienation rights (the right to sell or bequeath) to core assets slightly differs between men (97%) and women (90%) in Mongolia. Around 10% of female owners in Mongolia reported that they do not have the right to sell their owned dwelling units.

Given the disparities in land registration between women and men—and the important role land plays in pastoralism in the country—gender responsive laws and policies in this area are crucial. The Law on Pastureland Usage has not yet passed Parliament; therefore this is regulated by the Law on Land and other legislations. The Law on Land includes provision 4.1.3 which states “to ensure fairness and equality in land ownership, possession and use,” however there is no other mention of gender equality or nondiscrimination. Finally, the analysis found several areas of concern regarding decent work for women that are not explicitly addressed by sector law or policy (some of these issues are identified in the LPGE), or that the laws perpetuate discrimination. These include workplace harassment, an increasing gender pay gap, and unequal retirement age for women and men.

In conclusion, the report finds that while the LPGE and the NPGE serve as a gender responsive framework for women’s rights and development in Mongolia, sector laws and policies that affect women’s resilience to climate change and disasters in Mongolia are not yet gender mainstreamed. There are two exceptions: (i) the NAPCC is classified as gender sensitive; and (ii) the Environmental Sector Gender Strategy stands out as the gender responsive policy that directly promotes strengthening women’s resilience. Yet, without a suite of policy initiatives—as well as legislation to enforce commitments to gender equality—it is unclear how effective the NAPCC and the sector strategy alone will be in strengthening women’s resilience to climate and disaster risks. The report includes a set of specific and general recommendations to address some of these gaps.

Specific Recommendations:

(i) Develop an Emergency Management Sector Gender Strategy in the short term, to ensure protection and equality principles for disaster risk reduction are in place.

(ii) Review the National Program of Community Participatory Disaster Risk Reduction (2015–2025) at its mid-point from a gender perspective and advocate for the inclusion of specific gender equality targets and the promotion of gender inclusive approaches to community participation in DRR.

(iii) Develop regulations under the Law on Environmental Protection and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Law to increase the gender responsiveness of public participation in environmental policy.

(iv) Develop an Energy Sector Gender-Responsive Policy to identify key gender dimensions of the energy sector and include equality and on-discrimination principles in one of Mongolia’s critical sectors.

General Recommendations:

(i) Collection and analysis of disaggregated data needs to be prioritized.

(ii) Increasing women’s participation in environmental decision making is essential.

(iii) Consolidate a gender responsive approach to climate change and disaster risk


Asian Development Bank
© Asian Development Bank