The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Global

Gender relations are changing along with climate

A mother and her young child return to their devastated farming village in Mindanao. Typhoon Bopha struck the island on 4 December 2012, devastating livelihoods for millions
(Jason Gutierrez/IRIN)

A changing climate will inevitably have an impact on gender relations in rural communities, but not enough is being done to boost the resilience of women - already disadvantaged by traditional inequalities.

The UN International Strategy for International Risk reduction (UNISDR), has been arguing for mainstreaming gender in disaster risk reduction programmes for over a decade. "Disasters don’t discriminate, but people do," the agency noted. "The potential contributions that women can offer to the disaster risk reduction [DRR] imperative around the world are often overlooked and female leadership in building community resilience to disasters is frequently disregarded."

The need for gender awareness in programming became apparent after the Asian Tsunami in 2004, in which more women than men were killed. Research by Oxfam in parts of Indonesia and India after the wave struck found that women were more vulnerable partly because they were more likely to be unable to swim, and many were in harm's way because they were standing on the shore waiting for the men to bring in the fish they would process and sell.

The development agency CARE, along with Kulima Integrated Development Solutions, a South Africa-based consultancy, is trying to develop a methodology to conduct gender-sensitive vulnerability analysis. “Most NGOs have longstanding gender commitments, and are beginning to incorporate them in their climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction,” says Kulima’s Katharine Vincent, who is working on the methodology using Mozambique as their testing ground.

"Bouncing back to normal [the conventional meaning of resilience] should not include bouncing back to a situation of gender inequality"

“However, what we have noticed is that despite ongoing theoretical commitment, there is a lack of support tools (handbooks, guidebooks, methodologies, etc.) which particularly address questions of how to integrate a gender-sensitive approach to CCA [climate change adaptation] and DRR projects. CARE have observed that their own Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis (CVCA), whilst widely respected and used, could be stronger in advocating a gender-sensitive approach,” she added.

So far, CARE's CVCA has been updated and now includes questions directed at women and men separately - providing women with a freer voice.

Although NGOs and aid agencies are beginning to look at gender, Babette Resurreccion, a senior researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute, believes a more transformative agenda is needed. While lauding efforts to consider gender-specific vulnerabilities to make men and women more resilient, she noted that “Bouncing back to normal [the conventional meaning of resilience] should not include bouncing back to a situation of gender inequality.

"Building resilience should also transform," she noted.

jk/he


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join