Gender and Climate Change in the 'developed' world / in the Global North- a short introduction
Most knowledge on gender and climate change is available for developing countries (addressing the situation in developing countries). This is due to the situation that climate change generally impacts poor countries more than rich ones because of their geographical situation, and because of limited opportunities to adapt to climate change. Inside these countries, like in most developed countries too, there is a similar divide of the impacts between poor and rich people, and between women and men. In short: women are the most vulnerable to climate change, bear the brunt of the burdens, but are also agents for change. This is quite well accepted in the climate change community, in policy as well as in research. It generally doesn’t differ between gender and sex (gender = women), nor addresses cultural and structural injustices.
On the other hand, there is a strong resistance to accept and recognise the gender dimensions of climate change policy – both in adaption and mitigation – in the Global North. Given the situation that industrialised countries are historically the ones who caused climate chance, and thus responsible for the climate crisis, the main efforts to mitigate climate change must be done in these regions. And given the in-equalities we are facing in developed countries (gender, income…) like in developing countries, policies and measures to mitigate or adapt to climate change might reinforce these inequalities and traditional gender roles and responsibilities.
One of the reasons of the resistance is the lacking evidence for gender and climate change linkages in general and for the benefits of integrating gender into climate change policy and research. Thus there is a strong need for research.
There is at least some evidence that
• Gender-differentiated roles and responsibilities in families and households, as well as gender-segregated labour markets and income gaps, cause differentiated vulnerabilities of women and men to the effects of climate change.
• Gender roles and identities are significant for analysing the causes of climate change in terms of amounts, consumption fields and purposes of CO2 emissions.
• Gendered incomes and assets, information and education levels might result in differentiated capabilities to mitigate emissions as well as differing coping and adaptation strategies
• Gender differences in perceptions and attitudes towards climate change are quite well documented. The gender differences that they quite often demonstrate, may be useful for argumentation, however, they cannot replace substantiated gender analyses.
Therefore, it is important to understand that the social construction of gender and existing power relations interact with climate change and also play a role in climate policy. In order to analyse climate change policies and measures from a gender perspective, and to raise awareness about possible implications, we identified some gender dimensions (the full set of gender dimensions can be found here: http://www.genanet.de/en/topics.html). These dimensions apply to all areas of climate protection – from energy supply and energy usage to mobility, agriculture, forestry, water supply, and consumption.
One of the problems we are facing in addressing gender dimensions of climate change is that mostly all data available are sex (not gender) disaggregated data. Using these data in arguing for the necessity to integrate gender into climate change research, policy and measures might reinforce tradition gender roles and stereotypes.
• How to avoid stepping into this trap of stereotyping and traditional gender roles and responsibilities?
• Which data and research do we need to transform climate change policy in order to reduce injustices in general and gender inequalities in particular?
• How can we link gender research to climate change policy making (e.g. what are the benefits of integrating gender for climate change mitigation and adaptation)?