Climate Change and Gender Equality

© UN Photo/ Logan Abassi.
A girl walks through the flooded streets of her neighbourhood in Haiti, in the days following hurricane Sandy (2012).

As women suffer disproportionably from poverty, they will also suffer most when erratic weather brings droughts or floods to marginal lands or crowded urban areas where poverty is most felt. While existing evidence underscores the vulnerability of women to climate change, there is as well a wealth of evidence which underlines that women play an important role in supporting households and communities to mitigate the effects and adapt to climate change. In fact, women have led – and continue to lead – many of the most innovative responses to environmental challenges all over the world.

Main takeaways
  • Women are affected differently and more severely by climate change and its impacts on agriculture, natural disasters, and climate change induced migrations because of social roles, discriminations and poverty;
  • Women are not only victims but also powerful agents of change, and possess specific knowledge and skills to effectively contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, but they are largely under-represented in decision-making processes at all levels;
  • Understanding and effectively taking into account the gendered dimension of climate change is key for achieving sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNESCO aims to mainstream gender in its activities, working groups, committees, programmes and projects related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Furthermore, UNESCO works to promote women’s participation in high-level processes shaping the climate change agenda, as well as advocates for a better understanding and acknowledgement of women’s needs and roles in the fight against climate change at all levels throughout the world. Finally, UNESCO, through its Natural Sciences Sector, seeks to provide strong role models and mentors for women and girls in science throughout the world, and to promote the contributions of outstanding women to scientific knowledge, especially when it is related to the broad area of climate science.

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