Gender and Climate Change Essay

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This piece of academic writing is aimed at discussing the recognition that women and men experience climate change differently and that gender inequalities worsen women’s coping capacity. Therefore, questions such as; “Do people have similar or equal conditions in which to address and adapt to climate change? Do they have the same skills and capabilities to confront it? Will the consequences of climate change affect all people equally?” will be answered. The essay will also acknowledge the role of women as important actors of change and holders of significant amount of knowledge and skills related to mitigation, adaptation and the reduction of risks in the face of climate change.

According to World Health Organization (2010), Climate change refers to any long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns, whether in terms of changes in average conditions such as more/less rainfall, higher/lower temperatures, or in the distribution of events around the average, in other words, extreme weather events such as floods or droughts. Generally, the term is used for any change in climate over time, regardless of cause. Detrimental effects of climate change can be felt in the short-term through natural hazards, such as landslides, floods and hurricanes; and in the long-term, through more gradual degradation of the environment. The adverse effects of these events are already felt in many areas, including in relation to, inter alia, agriculture and food security; biodiversity and ecosystems; water resources; human health; human settlements and migration patterns; and energy, transport and industry.

Dankelman (2010) defines term “gender” as socially ascribed roles, responsibilities and opportunities associated with women and men, as well as the hidden power structures that govern relationships between them. Gender is “in essence, a term used to emphasize that sex inequality is not caused by the anatomic and physiological differences that characterize men and women, but rather by the unequal and inequitable treatment socially accorded to them. In this sense, gender alludes to the cultural, social, economic and political conditions that are the basis of certain standards, values and behavioural patterns related to genders and their relationship.”

Gender and climate change can be a vicious circle of worsening inequalities and impact. It is well documented that climate change affects women more than men. This is because of existing inequalities. The vicious circle is that the more women are affected negatively by climate change, the worse the inequalities get. And the worse the inequalities get, the worse the impact becomes. This vicious circle has a devastating effect on economic and trade growth, (Skinner, 2011).

According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2007), there are important gender perspectives in all aspects of climate change. Gender inequalities in access to resources, including credit, extension services, information and technology, must be taken into account in developing mitigation activities. Adaptation efforts should systematically and effectively address gender-specific impacts of climate change in the areas of energy, water, food security, agriculture and fisheries, biodiversity and ecosystem services, health, industry, human settlements, disaster management, and conflict and security.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2007), when we discuss vulnerabilities, or the role women and men can play as change agents, the starting point is an analysis of the differentiated relationship women and men have with environmental resources. Women and men relate differently to the environment for a combination of the following reasons: Level of dependence on environmental subsistence resources; Unequal relations in using, having access to, and controlling resources, and in the distribution of benefits; Ownership of, and rights to, resources; and Differentiated...
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