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Gender and climate change

Climate change is increasingly being recognised as a global crisis, but responses to it have so far been overly focused on scientific and economic solutions, rather than on the significant human and gender dimensions. As weather patterns become increasingly unpredictable and extreme events such as floods, heat waves or natural disasters become more common, the poorest women and men in the global South – who have contributed the least to the problem – find their livelihoods most threatened yet have the weakest voice and least influence on climate policy. How then do we move towards more people-centred, gender-aware climate change policies and processes? How do we not only respond to the different needs and concerns of women and men and ensure they have an equal voice in decision-making, but also address and challenge the socially ingrained gender inequalities that mean women are more likely to lose out than men in the face of climate change?

This key issues guide is based on BRIDGE’s two year Gender and Climate Change Programme, which was run in collaboration with partners based in Paraguay, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Colombia and Germany – and a global community of practice. The programme and its key output, the BRIDGE Cutting Edge Pack on Gender and Climate Change advocates for an approach in which:


  • women and men have an equal voice in decision-making on climate change and broader governance processes and are given equal access to the resources necessary to respond to the negative effects of climate change;
  • where both women’s and men’s needs and knowledge are taken into account and climate change policymaking institutions and processes at all levels are not biased towards men or women; and
  • where the broad social constraints that limit women’s access to strategic and practical resources no longer exist.

The programme shows that there is much to learn from innovative, gender-aware approaches to climate change that are already happening at the local level, led by non-governmental organisations, communities and individuals, which are leading to transformations in gender and social inequalities in some cases. National, regional and international initiatives are also playing a key role in promoting the need to integrate gender dimensions into all climate change policy and practice.

The sections below present some key gender and climate issues.

Image credits: Mongkhonsawat Luengvorapant/Oxfam
Gender and climate change overview report
Man and woman chatting
M. Henley / Panos Pictures
Responses to climate change tend to focus on scientific and economic solutions rather than addressing the vitally significant human and gender dimensions. The Overview Report offers a comprehensive gendered analysis of climate change which demystifies many of the complexities in this area and suggests recommendations for researchers, NGOSs and donors as well as policymakers at national and international level.

Impacts of climate change on men and women

What are the gender dimensions of climate change? As a starting point, we know that women and men do not experience climate change equally. Pre-existing gender inequalities mean that neither their contributions to the carbon emissions responsible for climate change, nor the way that they experience its effects, are the same. More...

Why gender-aware thinking is crucial in climate change policies

The international climate change architecture is complex and constantly shifting as new agreements come into being, or existing ones are amended. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the overarching international framework for addressing climate change. Despite referring to human activity, the UNFCCC makes no reference to gender at any point. More...

Women as key players in climate change solutions

Policies that do take a gender perspective often do so in ways that draw on assumptions and simplistic generalisations. For example, climate adaptation policies too often treat women only as vulnerable beneficiaries rather than rights-holding citizens who need to be recognised for the agency, skills and experience they can contribute. More...

Latest Documents

Gender lens: adaptation and empowerment
Vulnerability to climate change is determined, in large part, by people's adaptive capacity. A particular climate hazard, such as a drought, does not affect all people within a community – or even the same household – equa...
Gender-sensitive approaches and good practice examples from GIZ
J. Krauss / Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, 2011
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has made gender-specific challenges and responses to climate change a priority. The Ministry’s Development Policy Action Plan on Gender (2009–2012) calls...
Gendered analysis of climate change
E. Skinner / BRIDGE, 2011
Responses to climate change tend to focus on scientific and economic solutions rather than addressing the vitally significant human and gender dimensions. For climate change responses to be effective thinking must move beyond these li...
Practices that could ‘work for women’ in climate change financing
E. Arend; S. Lowman / Women’s Environment and Development Organisation, 2012
Although women and girls in developing countries disproportionately experience the negative impacts of climate change, climate finance funds do not meaningfully integrate gender dimensions into their policies or programmes. This resea...
Climate Investment Funds and Gender
E. Vogt / United Nations Development Programme, 2009
According to this brief, the current pledge to invest 80 per cent of Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) in male-dominated formal-economy work sectors, energy and transportation may perpetuate existing gender imbalances in climate change ...
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This Key Issues Guide is produced in collaboration with BRIDGE