Women more than men face the extremity of drought, floods, hurricanes, extreme rainfall events and sea level rise because of systemic gender discrimination and societal expectations related to gender roles, according to a new report released at the Bonn Climate Change Conference.
In the report, the analysts note that climate change affects groups differently as a result of the intersection of discrimination based on social factors such as urban or rural location, sexual orientation, educational background, income, gender, ethnicity, age, class and (dis)ability. The report was prepared by UN Climate Change and synthesized information submitted by Parties,
The report says that progress has been made in gathering sex-disaggregated data and systematically conducting gender analyses of climate policies. However, the report said that more sex-disaggregated data are needed to better understand the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change in order to implement gender-responsive measures. “Since 2019, financial and social constraints due to the Covid 19 pandemic have hindered progress in gathering sex-disaggregated data and thus delayed implementation of gender analyses, to differing extents across countries,” the report said.
WOMEN AS AGENTS OF CHANGE
The study also mentioned that integrating women and marginalized groups more into decision-making at all levels would help to improve both mitigation and adaptation policies. In particular, the submissions mentioned indigenous peoples, including indigenous women, as the custodians of traditional and indigenous knowledge. In order to preserve and apply traditional and indigenous knowledge, such groups must be empowered to share their knowledge through culturally respectful and inclusive approaches, they said.
The report stated that considering women as a homogeneous group must be avoided. They should be acknowledged as a group excluded from or restricted in decision-making in many contexts worldwide. This is despite evidence that women, as individuals, will often make more sustainable decisions than men under the same circumstances, be it in relation to their eating or transport habits or investment and budget planning, both within and outside the home.
The submissions highlighted the need for more sex-disaggregated data to be able to fully understand the role of women as agents of change in the context of climate change in both the public and the private sphere, as well as to ensure that the critical role of women – in all their diversity – in delivering more effective and robust climate outcomes is embedded in policy development.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN
The submissions also emphasised the necessity of implementing transformative social change for overcoming the climate crisis, improving social equity and therefore achieving gender equality. It highlighted how adverse climate change impacts, especially extreme weather events, are affecting the roles of women and men around the world, particularly in rural areas. In some African countries, for example, rural-to-urban migration has been observed among men, a trend driven by extreme weather events, leaving the women behind in charge of land and the household. While such forced changes in living and working arrangements often cause hardship, they can also catalyse shifts in perception and gender roles, in turn building the capacity, improving the financial situation and promoting the economic empowerment of women and girls.