“As innovators, organizers, leaders, educators and caregivers, women are uniquely positioned to help curb the harmful consequences of a changing climate. Incorporating a gender perspective into climate change policies, projects and funds is crucial in ensuring that women contribute to and benefit from equitable climate solutions.” - UNFPA/WEDO Research Kit
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) have developed a new research kit that looks at the intersections of climate change, population and gender. The research kit describes how women are both disproportionately affected by climate change, and an important (and often ignored) force in combating climate change. The kit also calls for a gender perspective in the climate change debate, cites initiatives that have successfully incorporated or focused on women’s role in the climate change debate, and provides evidence of why that gender perspective is so important.
Women make up approximately 70% of the world’s poor, are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood, and face historical disadvantages that include limited access to decision-making and economic assets  ; all of these factors make them disproportionately susceptible to the effects of climate change. As Kavita Ramdas, the president of the Global Fund for Women, attests in the research kit: “The gender inequalities that define [women’s] lives prior to a disaster are really what put them at such greatly increased risk after a disaster.”
The research kit is divided into six different sections:
- The first section, on Women at the Forefront, shares the most recent findings on women and climate change, as well as examples of women-led initiatives around the world.
- Policy that Supports Gender Equality details how climate change’s disproportionate effects on women necessitate gender- sensitive policies for mitigation and adaptation.
- Common Ground: In Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal, Senegal and Trinidad and Tobago offers concrete examples from the developing world.
- Making NAPAs Work for Women provides an overview of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA), initiated by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) to help countries already struggling with and/or most at risk from the effects of climate change, and argues for the importance of a gender perspective in NAPA.
- Financing that Makes a Difference provides estimates of how much it could cost to combat climate change, and proposals for determining how much each country should pay. It also emphasizes the importance of involving women in policy discussions.
- Finally, Educate and Advocate discusses efforts on the local, national and global level that have been integral in educating about gender inequalities or advocating for a gender perspective, specifically in relation to climate change.
You can find the entire research kit here
This subject will be explored further in the forthcoming UNFPA State of World Population 2009 report, entitled Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate. This flagship report will launch on 18 November 2009.
For more information on the nexus of women and climate change, you can visit the following web pages:
This article is available in Spanish.