Gender: the missing component of the response to climate change

GENDER: the missing component
of the response
to climate change

Yianna Lambrou & Grazia Piana

Full pdf - 480kb

Rome, 2006

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This report analyses the gender dimension of climate change and the policies enacted to mitigate and adapt to its impacts with the aim of developing gender sensitive approaches with regards to mitigation measures, adaptation projects and national regimes. The framework of the study is represented, on the one hand, by the scientific assessment of climate change, with its impacts and associated effects on human and natural systems, and, on the other hand, by the international response to this challenge. The findings show that the gender aspects have generally been neglected in international climate policy. This is a major concern given the emphasis of policymakers on general equity issues. It is only during the last few years, on the occasion of the sessions of the Conference of the Parties (COP), COP-8 (held in New Delhi, in October 2002) and COP-9 (held in Milan, December 2003), that gender was tangentially broached.

The lack of attention to gender issues according to some authors can be considered as the result of the perceived need felt by negotiators to focus their attention, and the limited available resources, on more universal issues.2 Both with regards to mitigation and adaptation policies, scientific and technological measures are preferred to “soft” policies addressing behaviour and social differences, particularly with regards to incomes and general opportunities. The overall resilience of a society to climate change as well as its ability to change economic processes to achieve greenhouse gas reductions often masks important differences of adaptive and mitigative capacity of specific social strata. Moreover, their emission profiles exhibit large differences. Poor and marginalized men and women have a limited ability to cope with these challenges.3 As in most societies, particularly in developing countries, women have lower incomes and fewer opportunities than men. Thus their adaptive and mitigative capacity is lower than those of males. Climate policies are thus not automatically gender-neutral.

The gender-specific differences in adaptive and mitigative capacity must be fully acknowledged and considered paying special attention to the design and implementation of response strategies. Given this reality, the next step should be the search of new ways for integrating the gender variable into international negotiations for the second and subsequent commitment periods, into national regimes for mitigation and adaptation and into project activities under the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation.

© FAO 2008