Accessing weather forecasts, having control over land, being able to influence decision-making processes, being backed by a community group, or being literate and educated are examples of the human and material resources through which people can act on the consequences of climate change. They are also strongly influenced by what makes up peoples social and economic position in society for example gender, age, ethnicity or religion. In other words, the degree to which a person, family or community suffers from or thrives in climatic shocks, weather extremes and uncertainty, or changes in the environment and economy, strongly depend on these and other social factors. Peoples social and economic roles and positions in society shift and change over time and for many reasons media and communication technologies, transportation and urbanisation trends, changing markets, and last but not least shifts in the climate and environment, etc. are all having impacts on them.
Gender is an important part of these shifting social factors, and as such continuously shapes vulnerability to climate change and peoples capacity to adapt. Gender inequality continues to be one of the most persistent and widespread forms of social inequality across the world. And yet, while its importance is increasingly recognised by policy makers and practitioners working to address climate change, its role in adapting to climate change is often poorly understood, or simply misunderstood.
Integrating gender into community-based adaptation:
- is essential for practitioners and communities to ground the adaptation process in a good understanding of the context, existing vulnerabilities and capacities
- is essential for communities to ensure the processes and actions they choose are relevant to both men and women in different social settings
- helps practitioners and communities understand why and how gender groups can be vulnerable to climate change in different ways, and how this changes over time
- helps to ensure decision-making power is more equally distributed between different social groups affected by climatic changes
- is required for community-based adaptation to contribute to the transformation of long-standing, deeply rooted barriers to developmen