The issue of gender equality in climate change adaptation is as much about efficiency and effectiveness of limited resources, as it is about equality and equity. Poor women face many gender-specific barriers that limit their ability to cope with and adapt to a changing climate; these must be removed in the interests of both gender equity and adaptation efficiency.
Given that many women are primarily responsible for ensuring their families have water, food and fuel, all natural resources likely to be impacted by climate change, they clearly have a unique contribution to make to adapt their communities to a changing climate.
The impacts of climate change, drought, floods, extreme weather, and reduced food and water security, severely affect the most vulnerable groups, particularly women who are often dependent on natural resources threatened by environmental change.
Climate change and environmental degradation undermine people’s ability to quit poverty and endanger their full enjoyment of human rights. This has a direct impact on health, food and nutrition security of millions of people – especially women and children. Climate change has a disproportionate impact on poor women and children as socially vulnerable members of society.
Many of the world’s poorest people are rural women in developing countries who depend on subsistence agriculture to feed their families. There are a number of key issues related to women’s rights and gender equality that must be addressed to reduce vulnerability and increase adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change impacts on the conditions of subsistence.
It is necessary to promote equal access for women to resources such as capital, technical assistance, technology, tools, equipment, so that they have a social and more effective economic participation, and this goes also for gender equality in energy, agriculture and other programs extension in order to support and strengthen their resilience to climate change. The participation of women in decision-making and adaptation to the climate for food security and nutrition is essential, with its vital contribution to create sound policies and strategies to adapt to climate change, taking into account their skills, unique experience and knowledge for the management of natural resources.
To promote the participation of women in decision-making on climate change, governments must demand respect for gender equality in local, regional and national government. Women’s participation can be increased at different levels and in different sectors by promoting inclusive processes of planning, decision making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of measures and initiatives on climate change.
Governments should be committed to gender mainstreaming in all policies and programs, and that should include policy-making processes relating to climate change.
Gender mainstreaming refers to the art and science of interpreting gender data and creating tailored policy, program, or project strategies that are culturally appropriate, minimizing negative social impacts, that’s why empowering women can be transformative for households, communities, and the economy of the world.