Gender: the missing component of the response to climate change

Gender: the missing component of the response to climate change

Why have gender issues been neglected in international climate policy?

Analysing the gender dimension of climate change and the policies that have been established to mitigate and adapt to its impacts, this report points out that gender aspects have generally been neglected in international climate policy. This is a major concern given the emphasis of development policy making on general equity issues.

Climate policies are not by default gender-neutral. Although poor and marginalised groups- both men and women- have a limited ability to cope with climate challenges, women often have lower incomes and fewer opportunities than men. Nonetheless, the evidence does suggest that whilst women are generally more vulnerable, in many instances they exhibit a surprising resilience. Sources and rates of emissions originating from women’s activities are also very different to their male counterparts, but narrowing equality in some areas does mean there is a need to ask how women’s resilience and adaptive capacity can be enhanced whilst ensuring that their emissions don't follow the “male model”.

The lack of attention to given to gender issues could be considered the result of a perceived need to focus attention and resources on more immediate issues. Often, “soft” policies addressing behaviour and social differences are sidelined in favour of more concrete scientific and technological measures. The authors consider that special attention must be paid to designing and implementing response strategies that take account of these differences, and that new ways should be found for integrating gender into international climate negotiations, national mitigation and adaptation activities under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI). The document presents a set of recommendations:

  • Emissions and mitigation: development objectives and equity issues must be balanced against reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Women should have access to funds to meet climate objectives, and opportunities for acquiring improved energy technologies. Women can play a crucial role in mitigation, particularly by contributing to the management of local vegetation resources and by protecting ecosystems.
  • CDM: by offering the opportunity to market new technologies to women at a large scale, the CDM may now make investment projects attractive. A marketing strategy should be introduced by investors in host countries.
  • Adaptation: education can support adaptation through the strengthening of women’s coping mechanisms. Gender-disaggregated data on households is needed to reach two important objectives: an improved assessment of coping strategies, and to target women in communication of information related to climate change.
  • Capacity building: an equitable and responsive approach to building the capacity of both men and women would be created if women’s specific necessities and capabilities are given more consideration. This is true for both mitigation and adaptation frameworks.
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