April 25, 2018 | Climate change

The effects of climate change are often felt disproportionately based on gender. This has necessitated integration of gender perspectives in the development of climate change policies. Although scientific approaches are important, there is a growing comprehension of the need to account for socio-cultural variables in responses to climate change. Indubitably, the effects of climate change are felt by all. Women and men however, have different capacities of responding to these change. According to a UN report, women are most susceptible to the effects of climate change primarily due to their dependence on natural resources. Gender inequality thus exacerbates the effects of climate change.

 Gender mainstreaming and the effects of climate change

Africa is one of the continents that have been ravaged by climate change. The continent’s socio-economic development has been impeded by negative effects of climate change such as drought and floods. These outcomes primarily affect women due to their higher dependence on natural resources as compared to men. The uncertainty of rainfall, for example, results in food insecurity which principally affects women and children. In Africa, for example, women are forced to travel further distances to access water due to climate-induced water scarcity. This problem is further compounded by female historical disadvantages such as lack of participation in decision making. Notably, this is not an implication that climate change policies should solely focus on women. In essence, mitigation of the effects of climate change involves sustainable land management. The use of land, however, largely relates to one gender and thus necessitates the inclusion of both genders. Gender mainstreaming is thus imperative to all climate change responses.

Gender equality in development and implementation of climate change policies

Gender equality ensures that the specific needs of both genders pertaining to climate change are identified and subsequently addressed in policies. This is because the impact of climate change is felt differently based on the differences stemming from gender. Gender mainstreaming thus ensures that responses to climate change take into account these differences. Therefore, mainstreaming would promote equality and ensure that all genders are involved in climate change responses.

Notably, climate change, particularly in Africa, has been principally caused by manmade behavior such as rampant deforestation. Gender and climate change is important to this end as it takes into account the different perspectives of men and women on mitigation strategies. In Africa, women, for example, perpetuate deforestation due to the use of wood as a source of fuel. Their involvement in the development of policies in climate change would thus create buy-in and hence enhance the chances of implementation success. Similarly, men play a critical decision-making role in the African context. Gender mainstreaming in development of policies on climate change is thus a precursor to successful implementation of mitigation responses.

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