Women are disproportionately affected by climate change.
Climate change is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges that the world is facing today. Its consequences will affect productivity, food security, increase natural disasters and have a long-term impact on all levels of society. This is particularly pertinent in relation to rural communities in developing countries across the world where women are primary land and resource managers, are primary caregivers and are responsible for the provision of water and energy for the household. In fact, women are the main producers of the world’s staple crops.
Drought, erratic rainfall and the increase of global temperature causes a decline in crop production and prevents these women from being able to carry out these responsibilities. Often as a result, girls often have to drop out of school to help their families and communities. The long-term consequences for their education and eventual contribution to economic development cannot be ignored.
Climate change and adaptation measures are expensive. With women’s salaries much lower than men’s, this leaves single mothers and elderly women at greater risk, unable to address climate change and protect themselves. Increasing demand for biofuels, in the search for alternative fuels, is often imported from developing countries and from marginal land farmed by women for household subsistence rather than the prime agricultural land farmed by men for export. Moreover, as many key decision-making institutions related to climate change have a male-dominated hierarchical structure, women are once more heavily impacted.
Call to action:
Policy developments in climate change, energy and the environment must include a gender perspective;
Investment in gender-specific climate change research and the development of gender-sensitive indicators. We support the recommendations of the IUCN Global Gender office to:
Adopt principles of gender equality at all stages (research, analysis, design and implementation of mitigation and adaptation strategies);
Encourage governments to ensure the involvement of women and gender experts when they prepare their contributions for international and national processes and ensure women’s participation at international and national meetings;
Develop strategies to improve and guarantee women’s access to and control over natural resources.
Empower women as the powerful agents of change that they are and have the potential to be;
Recognise the main responsibility industrial countries bear for greenhouse gas emissions;
Direct international aid funds towards climate change adaptation measures that help to decrease the standard of living gap created by the gender pay gap.