The differential vulnerability of women to the effects of climate change. This is amplified by the fact that women make up the majority of the world’s poor, and that in the developing world, two-thirds of farmers are women. A contributing factor is existing hierarchies of gendered power. Put simply, unequal access to resources and to decision-making processes places women in a position where they are disproportionately affected by environmental changes that impact sources of livelihood. Loss of biodiversity, as a result of climate change, can mean that women have to travel further for food and water, while extreme weather events result in more deaths to women than men. Men are also generally more likely to migrate, while women stay home with dependants. Inequality that affects access to reproductive health services is compounded in events of disaster and instability, where the incidents of rape and assault are increased.1
        It is also recognised that women are often the primary actors in strategies of mitigation and adaptation,2 as well as being the first to respond in disaster situations. Sophie Huyer, in the ‘Gender Note’ report on Gender and International Climate Policy written after COP 21, notes that only 57 (40%) of the signing countries refer to gender in their submissions, none of these industrialised countries. Huyer writes, “The use of the term ‘gender-responsive’ in the Paris Agreement is a big step forward, however the Agreement fails to move beyond the attitude of women as victims of climate change in need of capacity building.”3

1. See ‘Women as actors in addressing climate change: Incorporating women’s empowerment and gender equality in the agreement from the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,’ September 2015, pdf

2. Ibid.

3. Sophie Huyer, ‘Gender and International Climate Policy: An analysis of progress in gender equality at COP 21’, February 2016, 21 InfoNote.pdf?sequence 5”