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Gender and climate change

May 27, 2009

Oxfam GB’s latest publication, Engendering adaptation to climate variability in Gujarat, India, is a policy document that acknowledges the women’s concerns in adaptation interventions. It provides simple and practical tools for measuring vulnerability and advocating policies and programmes sensitive to gender issues.

Engendering adaptation to climate variability in Gujarat, India

Publisher: Routledge, March 2009

The recently announced National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in India recognises that climate change has different effects on women and men.

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To quote the Action Plan: “With climate change there would be increasing scarcity of water, reductions in yields of biomass, and increased risks to human health with children, women and the elderly in a household becoming the most vulnerable…”

Unfortunately, this understanding has not been translated into the NAPCC’s assessment of the effects of climate change.

In India and across South Asia, gender identity intersects with other social stratifiers, including class, and discrimination based on caste or religion. These shape people’s experience of poverty, which denies millions of people, women and men their basic human and livelihood rights.

Climate and disaster risks often overlay conflicts between different identity groups – making it even more difficult for vulnerable women and men to voice their concerns, or to participate in participatory processes of planning for change.

It is in this context of climate variability, contestation, and institutional complexity that collaborative partnerships between researchers, development practitioners, and policy advocates become so critical in terms of both laying a framework for adaptation and equally, trying to engender it.

Drawing on insights from coastal Gujarat, this document looks at how ISET (the Institute of Social and Environmental Transition) members and partners have worked together to:

  • Identify differential vulnerabilities, and
  • Facilitate initiatives to strengthen the adaptive capacity of poor women and men.

The findings of the research uncover that building gender concerns into the underlying systems that have been identified as necessary to enhance adaptation: livelihood diversification, infrastructure, communication, access to skills and knowledge, and community-based disaster governance becomes essential.

Also state actors and civil society need to ensure gender issues are integral to their approaches and explicitly engage women and men of different social groups in priority-setting and development of interventions most relevant to their situation.

Source : Oxfam
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