Gender & Climate
The climate is changing throughout the world: temperatures are rising, sea level is changing, ice is melting, rain is not predictable and floods, strong winds and droughts are more severe and happen more often. This change is due largely to the oil and coal that we use for energy and the petro-chemical industry.
Women and Climate Change Mitigation
Women already play an important role in the mitigation of climate change by changing buying habits, educating family members, conservation efforts, and their willingness to take action. Not only are women the providers of households and vital actors in agriculture, they are also the ones who will have to work with the renewable forms of energy such as biomass, biogas and solar, necessary in order to tackle climate change. More importantly, as mothers and educators they have a crucial role to play in the promotion of behavioral change in economic and societal activities. Gender differences are also of importance when it comes to the assessment of actual measures aimed at mitigating climate change. While men tend to place their trust in technological solutions to problems, women are more inclined to work for a change in lifestyles and a general reduction in energy consumption (Roehr 2009). Moreover, women tend to reject unproven technologies such as nuclear power and carbon capture and storage much more strongly than men do (Alber 2010).
Women and Climate Change Adaptation
One of the key components of global action on climate change will be measures to adapt to changes that are already unavoidable. As a result, involving both women and men and their respective viewpoints in the climate adaptation process of planning and implementation is critical to ensure that the final solutions will actually benefit all members of a community. Women have a lot of knowledge useful for adaptation because they work with the environment through their household duties including fetching water, gathering firewood and fruits and farming.
When developing and implementing adaptation strategies at the local level, either in rural or urban settings, it is critical to recognise and respect the greater vulnerability of women to the impacts of climate change as well as the difference in the way they are affected in comparison to men. For instance, they are more strongly depending on well-functioning infrastructure for water and sanitation, energy services, and mobility which is at risk due to extreme weather events.
The specific needs of women should be considered when developing or designing local-level adaptation strategies, programmes and activities. For example, the needs of women have to be taken into consideration when seeking to improve access to agricultural extension services, developing disaster risk reduction strategies and identifying and distributing tools for adaptation. At the same time, recognition needs to be given to women’s knowledge and experience with respect to, for example, seed selection, medicinal plants, local hydrology, community organisation, and coping strategies that can promote adaptation to climate change. Adaptation plans, programmes and strategies need to include not only men’s but also women’s knowledge and experiences.
Women and Climate Change Technology
GenderCC believes that technological developments related to climate change should take in to account women’s specific priorities and needs and make full use of their knowledge and expertise including traditional practices. Women’s involvement in the development of new technologies can ensure that they are user friendly, effective and sustainable. Women should have also equal access to training, credit and skill-development programs to ensure their full participation in climate change initiatives.
Because of women’s differential access to knowledge, institutional support, technological know-how, there is an obvious technology divide within the societies, especially in developing countries. As GenderCC, we recognize technology needs for women as of highest order. We also recognize women’s indigenous knowledge towards enhancing adaptive capacity. Needs assessment for any technology transfer must be strictly scrutinized in consultation with the stakeholders and with affected women as well. Technology to be transferred to the community must take into consideration that it is at least benign to women. Capacity building of stakeholder women before transfer of the technology must be a prerequisite.
In order to meet women’s livelihood needs, governments should identify strategies for technology exchange processes, which help rural and indigenous women increase household productivity and alleviate work load, while mitigating or adapting to climate change as well as facilitate the exchange of technologies that offer ecologically sustainable and socially equitable solutions for developing countries and for women and men within these countries.
Women and Climate Change Finance
GenderCC believes that a just and sustainable financing framework for mitigation and adaptation must guarantee that the financial burdens of coping with climate change risks are not transferred to those who contribute minimally to greenhouse gas emissions. Financing policies for climate change mitigation and adaptation must explicitly consider as well as respond to different experiences and needs of women, especially those women who are on the socio-economic margins of society.
Climate change obviously tends to deepen existing inequalities even further and we can try to do something about it by designing appropriate adaptation and mitigation activities. Therefore gender budgeting and gender audits of all climate change funds must be applied. Investments in programmes for adaptation and mitigation, technology transfer, capacity building, etc. should also be measured by their contribution to social justice, and gender justice in particular.
Capacity-building for Women
GenderCC believes that educating women about the impacts of climate change as well as ways to improve their resilience to climate variability is a very crucial component of adapting and mitigating climate change. It is important to improve women’s access to information, such as disaster warnings and longer–term changes in weather patterns. It must be ensured that rural women and women who have been denied the right to education are not excluded. As well, it has to be taken into consideration that women and men use different information channels. Capacity building programmes should draw on priorities put forward by women and local communities and recognize that women and men have different needs. They should include community-level exchanges so as to spread local knowledge and empower those who develop it and provide information relating to agriculture such as suitable crops and rainwater harvesting in order to help ensure food security and promote sovereignty. Equal benefit sharing mechanisms must be developed to ensure that local communities and especially women are not excluded from accrued benefits. As a result, monitoring and evaluation of capacity building programmes at all levels should be gender specific.