The climate crisis is tougher on women
Higher temperatures affect people around the globe in vastly different ways, and this is also linked to gender. Climate policy therefore has to consider gender as a factor – which is another reason for a feminist development policy.
What does climate change have to do with gender?
According to the United Nations, rising temperatures affect women more severely than men. One reason is that climate change impacts the more vulnerable and poorer people more acutely than others. As women usually have less of everything available to them – food, housing, money and protection – they are more vulnerable to, and also more frequently affected by, events such as heat waves and heavy rainfall than men are. So climate change has the potential to exacerbate the inequalities between the genders, which is why international cooperation needs to pay special attention to women.
Does this inequality between the genders occur only under extreme weather conditions?
At such times the difference is especially large, but it also exists generally with regard to climate change. Women are much less well represented in decision-making bodies at all levels of societies and therefore also have less say when it comes to planning climate-related decisions. Women are normally not involved in decisions about where retention basins are built, how the water supply is organised, and whether there are refuges in case of flooding and what they are like. By contrast, the feminist development policy aims to tackle these aspects and to help reduce precisely these kinds of structural disadvantages by increasing women’s participation. A greater focus will be placed on the ‘3Rs’: rights, resources and representation. GIZ is currently working to build up skills specifically in these areas, so that hidden and unfair power structures can be identified and tackled more readily.
Does this also mean that women are less able to mitigate climate change?
Actually the opposite is the case. Women play a key role when it comes to living and doing business more sustainably. Almost everywhere, they are the ones who raise the children and do the housework. They can be role-models, accompanying and supporting the next generation on the transformation path we are taking in order to cope with climate change. Women also generally consume less energy and resources, and according to the UN they consequently contribute less to rising temperatures. Furthermore, when they are able to make decisions, they often choose the more sustainable option. Women are therefore frequently called ‘agents of change’. For this reason it is crucial to properly involve them everywhere.
More on Gender and Climate Change
- Introduction to Gender and Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- Explainer: How gender inequality and climate change are interconnected (UN Women – Headquarters)
- Global gender equality in 2023: Urgent efforts needed to reach 2030 goals (UN Women – Headquarters)
- Gender and the environment: What are the barriers to gender equality in sustainable ecosystem management? (IUCN)