Why mainstreaming gender into community based climate change adaptation is a priority

JotoAfrika_adapting-to-climate-in-Africa

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Synopsis

The need to mainstream gender in response to the impacts of climate change is recognised globally. This is usually linked to differential vulnerability to climate change. Mainstreaming also needs to include how climate change impacts on gender relations, which in turn can determine the success of a household’s or community’s adaptation responses. Poor women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to climate change than their male counterparts due in part to their greater dependence on natural resources, which are affected by floods, drought and other impacts of climate change. The distribution and use of rights,  resources and power, which dictates the conditions and quality of the livelihoods
in all societies, is rarely equitable and often strongly influenced by gender relations. To achieve gender equality, we should not only understand and respond to women’s, men’s, boys’ and girls’ different vulnerabilities but also recognise that all are important actors, with knowledge and capacity for ensuring
effective responses to climate change. Their roles, rights, capacities, aspirations, needs and motivation to adapt, as well as the relationships, structures and dynamics between them all contribute to determining what communities can do to adapt to climate change. As climate change impacts are felt, vulnerable communities are forced to cope and adapt. In turn, men and women are required to take on new roles and responsibilities, and work together to manage the increasing uncertainties of seasonal weather patterns and diversify their livelihoods. Changing roles may be positive, such as enabling women to be more economically productive, or negative, such as withdrawing children, especially girls, from school to help with increasing workloads or because the family can no longer afford school fees. To take these changing dynamics into account we need to identify and work with the underlying drivers of change, identifying the risks and opportunities involved. Gender is a critical factor reaching from the household -community level to national and global institutions.