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Climate change through a gender lens

Jul 07, 2008

Women’s Environment and Development Organization’s latest publication titled: Gender, Climate Change & Human Security emphasises the effects of climate change on women, the most disadvantaged and neglected societal group. Recommendations provided enhance the integration of a gender perspective in climate change and human security policies and programmes.

Gender, Climate Change & Human Security

Irene Dankelman, Khurshid Alam, Wahida Bashar Ahmed, Yacine Diagne Gueye, Naureen Fatema and Rose Mensah-Kutin

Publisher: Women’s Environment and Development Organization, May, 2008

Women who comprise 70% of those living below the poverty line are most likely to bear the heaviest burdens when natural disasters strike. At the same time, they are more often overlooked as potential contributors to climate change solutions, and thus to the security of all human beings.

This study presents a gendered analysis of how climate change impacts on human security. It also assesses whether adequate scope exists for women to participate in improved human security in a scenario of changing climate.

The study is commissioned by the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), supervised by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and executed by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) in cooperation with the national partners ENDA in Senegal, Abantu for Development in Ghana and ActionAid in Bangladesh.

The Hyogo Framework for Action that emerged from the United Nation’s 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction states that “a gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster risk management policies, plans and decision-making processes, including those related to risk assessment, early warning, information management, and education and training”.

It is, therefore, imperative that governments and other stakeholders build into their policies and programs strong links between gender, human security and climate change.

While the study focuses on gender equality, it emphasises the effects of climate change on women, the most disadvantaged and neglected social group in society.

Women’s contributions to climate change adaptation are also examined, as are related policies including National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). Global policy frameworks and goals are reviewed, including the Hyogo Framework, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Some of the key recommendations outlined in the study include:

•  Apply a human security framework to climate change at policy levels
•  Guarantee women’s participation in climate change decisions
•  Conduct gender–specific vulnerability assessments
•  Incorporate climate change in discussions on women’s rights and related interventions
•  Invest more in strengthening the adaptive capacities of women 

This publication addresses government representatives of the Human Security Network, decision-makers and planners in the areas of human security, climate change and gender issues, as well as civil society actors active in these areas.

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