Forum sees push for gendered approach to climate change

By Kate Evans, published originally at Forests News

Scientists and indigenous leaders at a gender session at the Global Landscapes Forum—on the sidelines of the annual UNFCCC climate change conference in Lima, Peru—stressed the need to consider how climate change might affect men and women differently, and to incorporate gender into studies of both mitigation and adaptation.

“Power relations determine experiences, education and opportunities, and that means the impacts of climate change will be unevenly distributed,” Eleanor Blomstrom from the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) told the audience.

Gendered power structures have impacts in rural villages—and in the international negotiations.

Even within the UNFCCC itself, she said, there is a strong gender imbalance. On the board of the Green Climate Fund, for instance, there are 21 men and three women; on all the other UNFCCC boards and bodies men also significantly outnumber women.

“We need more information—how climate change affects women, how are women blocked from making decisions, and where does women’s leadership come in this kind of decision making,” Blomstrom said.

Claudia Ringler, Deputy Director of the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) shared new research on women smallholder farmers and their ability to adapt to climate change.


The IFPRI research examined the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change and the scope for community-based adaptation in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Mali, Ringler said.

“There was a clear gender gap in both tangible and intangible assets,” she said.

“We found that men are more directly adversely affected by climate change, but women’s assets, often smaller and more liquid—such as jewelry—are more easily disposed of in climactic shock.”

They found that women were least equipped to adapt their farming practices to climate change.

“Women have less access to agricultural technology that would help them adapt to climate change,” she said.

“In Mali, men were able to make up for production shortfalls because of access to irrigation—women did not have access and could not make up the shortfall.”

“Men were able to use the best technology they had; women used the hoe.”

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